With a prospective restaurant tenant lined up for the vacant corner location at the Village Center, 2 E. Burlington St. in downtown Riverside, the village’s board of trustees appears open to granting the business a package of economic incentives to seal the deal.

Patrick Leone, whose Lion Development II bought the Village Center development in 2014, is looking to partner with Rich Labriola, the former owner of Labriola Baking Company, and bring Pizza Barra to the corner of Longcommon and Burlington.

Pizza Barra, described as a “family-friendly, upscale, pizza-driven restaurant that offers classic Italian fare,” opened its first location in Oak Brook in September 2015. The roughly 5,000-square-foot Riverside location would be a full-service restaurant and bar with a capacity of about 135 indoors and 30 outdoors in addition to takeout/delivery.

The restaurant’s executive chef is Chris Macchia, who formerly worked at Gotham Bar and Grill in New York and Coco Pazzo in Chicago.

“This could be a game-changer for this village,” said Riverside Trustee Joseph Ballerine, who enthusiastically supported extending a package of incentives to ensure the proposal moves forward, during a discussion of the plan at the Feb. 18 Riverside Village Board meeting.

If Labriola and Leone decide to move ahead, the plan is to begin construction in May and to open in September, according to Sonya Abt, the village of Riverside’s community development director.

According to a board of trustees memo discussed at the Riverside Village Board’s meeting on Feb. 18, Labriola and Leone plan to spend $1.5 million to build out the ground-floor commercial space at the Village Center, which has sat empty since the building was completed in 2008.

Costs for building out and leasing such a large space in downtown Riverside to date have not been an attractive combination.

That the owner of the development is a partner in the venture appears to be a key element for this deal, but Leone and Labriola are looking for some help from the village in managing the risk they’re about to take.

 They asked for the village to waive all building permit and plan review fees. Based on the $1.5 million build-out estimate, that would mean the village waiving about $35,600 in fees.

In addition, the partners would like the village to rebate the 1-percent sales tax and 1-percent places of eating tax for a period of three years. Based on sales estimates provided by the partnership, the village could expect to rebate about almost $100,000 in sales tax revenues over three years.

In exchange, the village would continue to collect its 1-percent non-home rule sale tax and would benefit from a higher property tax assessment due to the new commercial development at the location.

While all of Riverside’s village trustees were in favor of extending some type of incentives package for the new business, there were some suggested tweaks. Some trustees favored capping the amount of sales taxes rebated based on the company’s estimates. There was also talk of not waiving fees, such as plan review, that resulted in direct costs to the village.

“My initial reaction would be that if they’re super, super successful then the rebate becomes less necessary,” said Trustee Doug Pollock.

Trustees, however, directed Sells and Village Manager Jessica Frances to negotiate an incentives package with the partnership and come back to the board with a proposal that could be voted on in March.

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