|By Cynthia M. Ellis, The Telegraph,
Alton, Ill.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 22, 2009--WOOD RIVER -- The economy may be in a slump, but city officials are positive about a developer's plan to build a hotel, restaurant and gas station on the city's east end.
The City Council voted 5-0 Monday night to approve a funding agreement with Aventurs Development, LLC for preliminary work on the proposed project known as Wood River Landing. The council also approved the preliminary plat for a two-lot commercial property.
The development company is planning to build a 100-room franchised hotel -- Holiday Inn Express -- on a 14-acre site near the intersection of Illinois Route 143 and Illinois 255, along with a Country Kitchen and gas station.
"It really is going to be a good thing," Mayor Fred Ufert said.
Ufert said plans have been in the works to bring a hotel to the city for some time.
"We've been working on a hotel project for awhile now," he said.
YTB International announced tentative plans last year about building a hotel and convention center near its headquarters along Route 143, but the development deal fell through. Aventurs purchased the acreage from the troubled travel company after the project collapsed.
Ufert said the company hopes to break ground on the project by late August or early September.
"Right now we are awaiting the state to give the final approval for it to be located in the Enterprise Zone," he said.
The city needs the state to approve the land use change. The city is located in the Riverbend Enterprise Zone, which is one 96 enterprise zones throughout the state and three in Madison County. Besides Wood River, other municipalities in the Riverbend zone are Alton, East Alton, Bethalto, Hartford, Roxana, South Roxana and Madison.
In 1982, the state established the enterprise program as a way to stimulate economic growth and neighborhood revitalization at a local level, which is accomplished through state and local tax incentives, regulatory relief and improved governmental services.
According to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, businesses located or expanding in enterprise zones may be eligible for various incentives such as the retailers' occupation tax paid on building material, an investment tax credit of 5 percent of the qualified property, and an enterprise zone jobs tax credit for each job created in the zone for which a certified dislocated worker or economically disadvantaged individual is hired. In addition to the state incentives, each zone offers distinctive local incentives to enhance business development projects.
Ufert said the developers conducted a study and determined based on other hotels in the area they will be filled at 69 percent capacity weekly.
It would be the second location for Country Kitchen in Illinois. The restaurant chain is located in Princeton, Ill., as well as locations in 22 other states and Canada.
"The council believes this is going to be a really nice addition to the city," Ufert said.
Council member Cheryl Maguire said she was thrilled with the development.
"This has been three years in the making with contacts, phone calls and meetings at city hall," Maguire said. "This has been a collective effort and groundwork is on-going for development throughout the city, not just the east end of town."
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Copyright (c) 2009, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill.
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