City Council to cast final votes on Olive Garden funding Monday

By Samantha Brockett

On Monday, the DeKalb City Council [DCC] will cast their final votes on the possible opening of an Olive Garden by fall 2013.

The DCC voted to give the parent company of Olive Garden, Darden Restaurants, a $900,000 forgivable loan on Oct. 8.

“The money will be paid out from our TIF district to help with site improvements for the Olive Garden proposed location,” said 4th Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher. “The money will be paid back to the city in the form of sales tax generated by the restaurant as they stay in business.”

Economic Development Consultant Roger Hopkins said many DeKalb residents expressed a great amount of interest in the restaurant coming to the area during a survey conducted in 2011.

“Business districts conducted a voluntary shopping behavior survey online for residents to participate in. Olive Garden was voted to be the most desired restaurant,” Hopkins said. “Out of 892 responses to the survey, 309 residents said that they went out of town once a month to eat at an Olive Garden.”

The proposed site Darden Restaurants would purchase is at 2211 Sycamore Road where Small’s furniture was originally located. NIU owns the Art Annex, also located at the proposed location. The university is currently working with the city and the project developers to help supply parking to the restaurant.

“NIU has helped support this project because they have worked out an agreement for parking because they own the building over in that area,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Tom Teresinski. “NIU’s support is important in order to have adequate parking.”

Gallagher said the restaurant opening would benefit the city of DeKalb.

“I support the proposed idea because it will offer more job opportunities for restaurants, 55 full time equivalents, another restaurant option in our community and most important will prevent leakage so people can/will stay in DeKalb to eat,” Gallagher said.