Financial grant to help to rebuild store

By M. Robert Berg

It’s out with the old and in with the new, as far as a new hardware store in DeKalb is concerned.

A new Ace Hardware store will soon be built at 1802-1810 Sycamore Road in DeKalb, where the vacant Salvation Army thrift store now stands.

The city of DeKalb is providing financial assistance toward this effort. A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) grant of $40,000 was approved at the city council meeting Oct. 11 to help the property owners remove underground storage tanks and fix a soil contamination problem.

An environmental consulting firm did an assessment of the property July 14 to investigate environmental contamination. According to the report by Environmental Consultants and Planners (ENCAP) Inc., the presence of storage tanks was reason to perform soil testing.

“The risk of environmental contamination of the subject property from an off-site source is low,” stated the assessment report from ENCAP Inc. “However, because of historical and current use of above-ground storage tanks and underground storage tanks (USTs) on the subject property, an investigation was performed to determine if a release had occurred.”

The property was divided into four areas for the testing, and three of the areas were safe from contamination. One area, though, was contaminated.

“Lab results indicated a significant release of petroleum had occurred in the location of the removed USTs,” the report stated. “Remediation in this area is necessary.”

DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas wrote in a memo to the council that the estimated cost of this cleanup is $40,000. This is the reason for the amount of the grant.

The property owners, Jim and Genevieve Wayman, however, will not receive more aid if the cost runs over this estimate. “Any costs above and beyond this to take care of the soil problem will have to be covered by the Waymans,” DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow said.

Sparrow explained what the TIF district consisted of. “The district covers that portion of Sycamore Road,” he said. “It takes in Northland Plaza and the Ace Hardware as well as the property behind it,” he said.

Because the property is in the district, the Waymans are eligible for TIF funds to improve the property, according to Sparrow. “Overall, this is incentive to do the project (build the new Ace store),” Sparrow said. “We would like the area redeveloped.”

This grant follows the council’s and the mayor’s stance on the importance of economic development in the city.

“This really isn’t out of line with our thinking,” Sparrow said. “I’ve often discussed with the council to set aside money for the buildings in the TIF district.”

Money for these types of projects and improvements is available through the state, but the competition is strong between communities for the limited funds, Sparrow said.

In exchange for this TIF assistance, the Waymans have agreed to construct a new 20,000 square foot, free-standing Ace Hardware store within two years, according to Nicklas’ memo.

“If a new Ace store is not constructed within two years, the proposed grant (will be converted) to a three percent loan, amortized over a 10 year period,” Nicklas stated in his memo.

The Wayman’s Ace Hardware store is currently at 1814 Sycamore Road in DeKalb.