Originally Posted Online: April 15, 2013, 9:41 pm
Last Updated: April 16, 2013, 12:27 am
Zook's got the Button; Aledo aldermen approve sale of historic building
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By Pam Berenger, firstname.lastname@example.org
The historic Button Building in downtown Aledo will be sold to Zook Investments, Inc for $233,488.
Aledo alderman on Monday voted to waive the second reading of the ordinance, sealing a deal that has been the subject of closed sessions for several meetings.
"I commend the council on its fact gathering, its efforts and time spent on this matter," Mayor Bill Breeden said after the vote. "A lot of thought went into the planning to make this happen."
Ald. Tab Balmer, who often has criticized tax increment financing loans and grants, said he was pleased with the outcome.
"It's the right thing to do for Aledo," Mr. Balmer said.
Don Zook, president of Zook Investments, said plans include for the three businesses in the building -- Vintage Button, the Liberty Station restaurant and a delicatessen -- to remain.
"I feel optimistic about the business," he said. "Closing the businesses there would impact the city. All make a contribution to bringing the people downtown."
The city bought the landmark building at 101 N. College Ave. from the Button House Development for $200,000. To facilitate the sale, Black Hawk State Bank will release the mortgage for less than is owed, said city attorney Mark Walton.
The $233,488 purchase price includes an additional amount of TIF incentives owed by the Button House Development Group
The council also will be asked to approve a redevelopment loan of $283,000, of which $170,000 will be a forgivable loan as long as there are retail businesses in the building. The remaining $113,000 is a "straight" loan to be repaid in monthly installments over 9.5 years.
Mr. Walton said all obligations are secured by a mortgage, allowing the city to foreclose if payments are not made or if Mr. Zook fails to maintain retail businesses in the building for more than six months.
The council also agreed to issue Mr. Zook the remainder of a 2008 TIF forgivable loan of $66,391 for property on Main Street.
In other business, alderman approved TIF grant applications for two buildings owned by Aledo Welding Enterprises, Inc. Both grants fall under the building code and life safety upgrade program and will cover 50 percent of the cost of improvements, up to $25,000.
Council members also approved spending $5,000 for a billboard advertising campaign to generate interest in Aledo's three main activities: Rhubarb Fest, the Mercer County Fair and Antique Days.
Economic development committee member John Hoscheidt said the billboard will be up for four months starting in May, either on Interstate 280 near Jumer's Casino or on U.S. 67 south of Milan.
In other matters, city economic development coordinator Kathy Albert reported Ameren Illinois has rejected the city's request that it participate in a utility subsidy.
"It's disappointing to learn," she said. "After eight weeks of corresponding with the company, they have decided not to participate."
Mayor Breeden said he met last week with Ameren representatives about four issues and the letter came as a surprise.
"I was semi-promised I would hear back from there about those issues," he said. "The only reply was the rejection letter."
Aldermen on Monday also approved requests for road closing for the April 27 Healthy Kids Day event; the June 7 and 8 Rhubarb Festival and a June 8 Alley Art event.