Empty O’Leary’s location moves closer to becoming Mexican restaurant

Council shows support for El Jimandor Mexican Grill in "extraordinarily challenging climate"

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Patrick Murphy

O'Leary's Irish Pub stands empty in downtown DeKalb.

Kierra Frazier, Senior Reporter

DeKALB — The former location of O’Leary’s Irish Pub and Grill, 260 E. Lincoln Highway, is one step closer to becoming a Mexican restaurant after council members passed an ordinance for a tax increment financing funding request at Monday night’s meeting.

The ordinance, which passed seven to one on first and second readings, will only fund the TIF-eligible remodeling costs, which equates to $124,100, according to the April 13 City Council agenda. A TIF is a way for the city to help finance various companies through taxes for a project site or for redevelopment within the city.

The developers plan to buy the building for $560,000, placing El Jimador Mexican Grill in the location, according to the agenda. 

At previous meetings, council members showed little support for funding a forgivable loan that included reimbursement for any property acquisition costs. Since then, the developer withdrew its request for funding the acquisition costs and plans on using its own funds for fencing around the outside dining area. 

Fifth Ward Alderperson Scott McAdams, who opposed funding the acquisition costs at previous meetings, said he’s usually “anti-TIF on everything” but was happy to see the remodeling costs come down to $124,100. 

“It’s a rare turn of events, and it’s an extraordinary time,” McAdams said. “I really do appreciate that businesses are going to come forward in this extraordinarily challenging climate, and I’m hoping for nothing but the best for the owners.” 

Over 20 years, 100% of the TIF property tax increment produced from the restaurant will be included as a credit to pay off the $124,100, according to the agenda. 

Fourth Ward Alderperson Greg Perkins voted against the ordinance and said he believes it might set a dangerous precedent for the future to guarantee 100% of the remodeling costs.

“Everyone else is going to want 100% of the cost [to] flip a property,” Perkins said. “I get that it’s a trying time, there’s a lot going on, but philosophically, I have a lot of reservations with it.”

Seventh Ward Alderperson Anthony Faivre said while he wants to support other projects within the city, he wouldn’t want to set a precedent with this ordinance either.

“As long as I’m on the council, I won’t just be writing blank checks,” Faivre said. “I’m going to weigh the return on investment; does it fit the community? Is it in the plan and is it something we want to bring into the community?”

The council also unanimously passed an ordinance on first reading Monday night to authorize the annexation and development agreement with Ventus Tech Services, LLC. Read about it here.