Business development was the theme of the first batch of 2008 ordinances approved by the North Riverside village board on Jan. 7, with variances granted for Tony’s Finer Foods and grants of more than $700,000 approved for Joe Rizza Ford and Edward Don and Company.

The board granted three sign variances for the developers of Tony’s, the supermarket that will replace Dominick’s in the North Riverside Park Plaza. The first was for a larger sign on the supermarket itself. The other variances were to install larger signs advertising all the businesses in the plaza, one just south of Harlem Avenue and West 25th Street, and the second east along 25th Street closer to the supermarket.
The owners of Tony’s, IG Riverside LLC, purchased the entire Plaza in September.

Building and Health Commissioner David Skurkis said the variances were approved by the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals with no objections. Trustee Gary Wittbrodt did vote against the variances, however, saying he thought if the developers used LED lights for the signs they would be too bright for the area.

Skurkis said he didn’t know the developers’ plans, but assumed they would use LED lights.
“That’s the new technology for energy efficiency,” he said.

Grants approved for Don, Rizza

The board also awarded grants of $150,000 and $600,000 to Edward Don, the foodservice supply distributor, and the Joe Rizza Ford car dealership, respectively, Monday night.

The businesses will use the money to make improvements to their buildings and parking lots. This is the fourth time the village has made such grants to local businesses.

Village Administrator Guy Belmonte said the grants were made at the businesses’ request, and will be paid for with short-term loans taken out by the village.

He explained the village provides these funds to help increase profits in the business district.
“These are good sales-tax generators for the village,” Belmonte said.

Citing the estimate given by Rizza Ford of $24 million in expected sales this year, he added, “That’s $24 million that was never there before. That’s $240,000 for the village.”

Rizza recently added a Lincoln-Mercury line of vehicles at their dealership, which is located on the northwest corner of Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road.

Mayor Richard Scheck also noted that the amount of each grant was based on a 3-year return-on-investment calculation, and each agreement included a repayment clause if the company closed or left North Riverside within five years.

Scheck stated the grants were the best way of assisting the business district without affecting residents.

“We have our own way of offering assistance that will be paid back in three years,” he said. “We don’t freeze anybody’s real estate taxes … and we don’t injure the residents by taking from the residents’ pot and putting it in the business pot. It’s a pretty good deal.”