By Bob Uphues
A plan to bring a brew pub to a long-vacant commercial building in the 300 block of East Burlington Street in Riverside has stalled, and the clock is ticking on financial incentives the village gave to the developer to help make it happen.
Matt Thomson, the owner of Safehouse Brewing told the Landmark last week that not much had changed regarding the project since early in the year, and that interior construction still hadn't begun on the brew pub.
"As of now I am not sure when we will start," Thomson said in an Aug. 3 email. "I wish I had a better update for you."
Safehouse Brewing, a Prohibition-themed brew pub at 363-69 E. Burlington St., which would include a craft brewery and a bar/restaurant capable of seating 150 people, was pitched to the village board in the fall of 2016.
In order to facilitate what was described as a renovation project that would cost $1 million, the village board approved a package of financial incentive that included waiving building permit and other fees up to $49,600. In addition to permit fees and plan review fees, the village board also agreed in September 2016 to waive health inspection fees, business license fees, liquor license fees and live entertainment license fees for the first three years of the business' operation.
However, the resolution approved by the board set Nov. 1, 2017 as the deadline for occupancy. Failure to hit that deadline means the developer will be on the hook for those fees.
The building was purchased in November 2014 by Giuseppe Zappani, who is Thomson's father-in-law. According to Sonya Abt, the village's community development director, Zappani has been the village's main contact for construction issues related to the building. He is presently out of the country, Abt said, which may be slowing things down.
Abt said Safehouse Brewing has already submitted plans for review twice, and that her department is waiting on revised plans to address plumbing and health inspection issues that remain. The developer also needs to provide the fire department with fire sprinkler plans, Abt said.
"Matt seems on board and wanting to move forward," Abt said. "We've had a couple of reviews already, and I hope this is the last one. We're not far away."