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Local News

Joliet working on new plan for Crabigale's building

JOLIET – It’s back to the drawing board for the old Crabigale’s comedy club spot, the downtown building that has been tough to put back into use even before the city of Joliet acquired it in 2001.

The city council Tuesday revoked a redevelopment agreement for the building after Leaf Capital Investments missed deadlines to get bank loans to finance the project, city officials said.

This marks the second time that plans for a new restaurant at the building were abandoned before they got started.

In 2014, the owner of Lockdown Bar & Grill, located in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood of Chicago, called off his plan to put a Joliet version of the restaurant in the building at 1 E. Cass St.

Leaf Capital is associated with The Vault Cafe and Bar in Lemont.

Councilman Larry Hug said Leaf Capital had “a good proposal to have an authentic Cajun restaurant. I would have gone.”

Hug chairs the council’s Economic Development Committee, which is likely to review the terms of the city’s next request for proposals to redevelop the building.

The council approved the Leaf Capital agreement in June, pending the company’s ability to obtain financing for the project.

Economic Development Director Steve Jones said that agreement will serve as a template for the next request for proposals.

“I already have two parties who have expressed some interest in it,” Jones said.

The agreement basically hands over the building to the developer once $300,000 in renovations have been made.

The city’s interest since acquiring the building has always been to preserve it by making it worthwhile for a private developer to fix it up. Called the Loughran Building, it was built in 1890 and is located on the corner of Chicago Street, which is the main street downtown.

The city initially sold it at a nominal price to the late Brian Graf, who started the Crabigale’s comedy club, which went out of business in 2005. It has not reopened since.

Graf remodeled the first floor of the building for his comedy club and was beginning to work on the upper two floors when his enterprise failed. The building went into foreclosure, and the city became the owner again.

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