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Local News

Thomas Toyota to come to Romeoville

Future of Joliet dealership unclear

ROMEOVILLE – A failed site that was once slated to be a commercial center in Romeoville is now filling out with the announcement of Thomas Motors building a new Toyota dealership.

Mayor John Noak announced at his State of the Village address Thursday that the dealership will be coming to the intersection of Grand Haven Circle and Weber Road.

The location is not far from Thomas' existing Toyota dealership on Larkin Avenue in Joliet, where Weber Road becomes Larkin Avenue, so it appears the company is moving the brand to Romeoville. Thomas also sells Nissans at the Joliet location.

Thomas management could not be immediately reached for comment.

Thomas Toyota, which will build a state-of-the-art 40,000-square-foot facility, joins McDonald's and the under-construction Springs at Weber Road high-end apartment complex at the former Rose Plaza site in Romeoville.

Noak said Friday that the other undeveloped corner of the site, at the intersection of Weber and Renwick roads, was acquired by a developer for retail and restaurant uses.

"We've been working with [Thomas Motors] on potential sites for a little while," said Noak, adding that the dealership will be a great addition to the Weber Road corridor.

Construction on the dealership is expected to start in the fall.

Noak said it has been more than 20 years since Romeoville has had a new vehicle dealership.

Incentives

Romeoville trustees will vote on an economic incentive agreement for the dealership Wednesday. The agreement, if approved, would name the dealership, "Romeoville Toyota."

Under the agreement, the village would reimburse the dealership 70 percent of sales tax revenue collected by the village from the dealership for the first five years.

During the next five years, the sales tax rebate rate would be at 60 percent. Between the 10th and 30th years, the rate would fall to 50 percent. The total reimbursement amount wouldn't exceed $8.2 million.

"This is a typical agreement for a development of this nature," Noak said.

The Village Board will also vote on a 10-year athletic court and field sponsorship agreement with the dealership.

The deal gives Romeoville Toyota sponsorship rights to one of the athletic fields or courts in the Edward Hospital Athletic and Events Center located at 55 Phelps Ave., with the ability to place its logo on the field or court of its choice.

The village will collect a sponsorship fee of $50,000 to be paid in equal installments of $5,000.

"We are very excited Thomas has chosen Romeoville for their new location," Noak said in a village news release. "This will be a great addition to the Weber Road Corridor."

Thomas in Joliet

In Joliet, meanwhile, city officials said they had been talking with Thomas about incentives for an expansion of the Larkin Avenue dealership. But they did not know about the Romeoville plan until it was announced.

"We've had discussions for some time now about incentives," Mayor Bob O'Dekirk said. "This goes back at least a year we've been dealing with the dealership."

O'Dekirk and others said they did not know if Thomas planned to keep its Nissan dealership in Joliet or have a second Toyota dealership in Romeoville while keeping the Joliet location.

Thomas had told Joliet officials that they were under pressure from at least one of the car manufacturers to expand or open a location closer to an interstate, said James Haller, director of community and economic development.

"They said even if we reached an accord [on incentives] that corporate might want them to go elsewhere," Haller said. "We've been talking with them about incentives to keep them on Larkin Avenue."

Haller said Thomas owns land on which it could expand at the Larkin Avenue location.

Steve Jones, the city's deputy city manager and economic development director since Jan. 1, said he has had several discussions with Thomas ownership but Friday was the first time he heard the company would open a dealership in Romeoville.

• Reporter Bob Okon contributed to this story.

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