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Local News

Lockport looks to get first car dealership

A real estate sign lays under snow Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019,  near the Lockport Square shopping center in Lockport, Ill. The city council’s committee was presented with an economic incentive agreement Wednesday to bring a Jeep showroom and full-service Chrysler-Dodge-Ram dealership to the 80-acre retail center along 159th Street and Interstate 355. The city already has parallel agreements with Holiday Inn Express and Marcus Theaters, and a new Chipotle and Mod Pizza are also planned for the Lockport Square retail center.
A real estate sign lays under snow Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, near the Lockport Square shopping center in Lockport, Ill. The city council’s committee was presented with an economic incentive agreement Wednesday to bring a Jeep showroom and full-service Chrysler-Dodge-Ram dealership to the 80-acre retail center along 159th Street and Interstate 355. The city already has parallel agreements with Holiday Inn Express and Marcus Theaters, and a new Chipotle and Mod Pizza are also planned for the Lockport Square retail center.

Lockport is working toward an agreement to bring its first car dealership to the city.

The City Council’s Committee of the Whole was presented with an economic incentive agreement Wednesday to bring a Jeep showroom and full-service Chrysler-Dodge-Ram dealership to the 80-acre retail center along 159th Street and Interstate 355.

The city already has parallel agreements with Holiday Inn Express and Marcus Theatres, and a new Chipotle and Mod Pizza are also planned for the Lockport Square retail center.

The shopping center has remained largely dormant after both Target and Home Depot pulled out after the recession in 2008.

“To see this coming along is good,” Mayor Steven Streit said. “Let’s be frank, it’s not what we were expecting. ... Sometimes you have to go with the flow.”

The city would rebate 50 percent of its 1 percent car sales tax to the company for 20 years or a maximum of $8.7 million, according to the proposed agreement.

The proposal is to put a new concept Jeep showroom facing 159th Street with a separate Chrysler dealership and service center behind it.

The hotel and theater are proposed for the east side of the lot, toward I-355.

The dealership could bring in 100-125 permanent jobs and 35 construction jobs, according to a memo by City Attorney Sonni Williams.

It could also generate about $860,000 annual sales tax. Williams’ memo noted the economic incentive was necessary in order for FCA to move forward with the development.

“This is an exciting time for us,” said Jack Gannon, dealer network manager at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. “We believe having a car dealership with all the customer conveniences will drive [customers] to the area, and we believe it’s going to improve the surrounding businesses.”

Both Marcus Theatres and Holiday Inn Express have had positive responses to the proposal, City Administrator Ben Benson said.

The resolution will come to the City Council for approval at its Feb. 6 meeting.

The Big Run Golf Club is looking for developers as it plans to close in a few years and be replaced by a large mixed-residential development.

The owners plan to replace the 84-year-old, 220-acre golf course with a 515-unit residential community that would include single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes and senior housing along with conservation open spaces.

The committee was presented with three measures to review that the City Council would need to approve in order to move forward with Big Run’s plans.

“This is an exciting growth opportunity for Lockport we probably haven’t seen for a long time,” Benson said.

Before any construction can take place, the city needs to annex the unincorporated Big Run property located between New Avenue and Smith Road and 135th and 143rd streets, which is an unassigned area, according to a 2014 boundary agreement with Romeoville.

But, the city must first annex two properties east of Smith Road in order to establish contiguity.

The city also needs to show it can feasibly link utilities to the proposed development.

One of the measures in question is to allow city staff to work on an intergovernmental agreement with Romeoville to amend the 2014 agreement and the subsequent facility planning map to incorporate all the changes.

Benson said Romeoville is on board with the city’s plans. “[John] Noak is a practiced mayor who understands economic development, and he knows that when this development is built it will benefit both Romeoville and Lockport.”

The second measure is a task order with Strand Associates for engineering services needed to help facilitate making the formal changes to the city’s facility planning map.

The final measure is a pre-annexation agreement with Big Run. Big Run also will agree to pay some costs.

There will be a public hearing on the pre-annexation agreement at the City Council’s Feb. 6 meeting.

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