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Aurora considers incentive for downtown restaurant

Aurora is considering an incentive to help a well-known St. Charles restaurant locate along downtown Broadway.

The owners of the Grateful Ordinary, which opened several years ago in a renovated bank building in downtown St. Charles, plan to open an Italian osteria in a building at 7 S. Broadway.

Officials with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development said they are in the final stages of negotiating a deal with restaurateurs Chris and Mehgan Curren, as well as their developers Frontier Development, LLC, owned by Conrad and Curt Hurst .

The deal would involve a renovation costing just over $1.6 million of the 7 S. Broadway building. Under the proposed redevelopment agreement, the city would provide an incentive worth about half that amount, or $827,094.

The incentive would be a grant of $413,547 and a forgivable loan of the same amount.

David Dibo, Aurora’s economic development director, presented some details of the arrangement last week to the city council’s finance committee. The deal is not finalized, but he said he will present final details Tuesday at the council’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Dibo said the Grateful Ordinary has received rave reviews and the owners are looking to develop another restaurant in the area.

“They were requested by a certain number of municipalities,” he said. “They loved downtown Aurora and fell in love with the building.”

Under the deal, the owners would pay not only the first half of the redevelopment cost, but also the approximately $100,000 needed to purchase the 3,200-square-foot building from the city.

Since the city owns the building, it is not on the tax roll. When the property was transferred back into private hands, it would begin to generate property taxes of about $3,000 per year.

Dibo said with the redevelopment, taxes generated are expected to reach $21,000 per year. The property is in Tax Increment Financing District 10, meaning the increase, about $18,000 a year, would go toward the increase.

“Today it doesn’t generate any property taxes,” Dibo said.

Dibo said the restaurant is expected to generate about $1.5 million in revenue annually, also paying sales taxes and the city food and beverage tax. That would generate between $60,000 and $70,000 in taxes a year, he said.

In addition to seating approximately 100 to 110 seats in the building, the restaurant would use the small park, known as Skinny Park, next door for outdoor seating, and possibly also the Water Street Mall.

Alex Minella, of the city’s economic development department, said the Italian restaurant would be an osteria or bistro, in which the owner or chef would be part of the experience.

The leader of the Grateful Ordinary developed a following, and Ald. Carl Franco, chairman of the 5th Ward Finance Committee, said St. Charles Restaurant is “on the cusp” of getting a Michelin star — a huge benchmark for any restaurant.

“These leaders succeeded,” he said. “That’s a really good catch.”

Minella said the osteria will be different from the recently opened Amore Mio downtown in that Amore Mio is considered a white-tablecloth restaurant and is more expensive.

Another Italian restaurant will open in the Hobbs building, at River Street and Galena Boulevard, and Minella said it will be a less expensive, very informal restaurant aimed at larger groups.

The proposed osteria on Broadway would fall between these other two restaurants in terms of price.

“Customers can have a dialogue with restaurateurs,” he said of the proposed new restaurant. “It’s a niche restaurant.”

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