The Riverside Village Board paved the way for a pizza-centric restaurant to land at the prime corner location of the Village Center in downtown Riverside by approving an assortment of waivers related to building, business and other fees normally charged to commercial enterprises.
With a vote of 4 to 0 (with three trustees absent, President Ben Sells cast the crucial fourth vote), the village board approved fee waivers totaling $49,600 for Pizza Barra at their March 3 meeting. Also voting to approve the incentives were trustees Joseph Ballerine, Ellen Hamilton and Scott Lumsden.
“So far, knock on wood, it looks promising that they’re going to come here,” said Sells.
The village will waive up to $35,000 in building, plumbing and electrical permit fees and will eat the cost of the architectural and fire plan review, which could be as much as $5,600. The village outsources plan reviews to a third party.
In addition, the village will waive health inspection fees for Pizza Barra for the first three years ($600) and the business license fee for the first three years ($300). Riverside also will waive Pizza Barra’s liquor license fee for three years, an amount that would have totaled $8,100.
The fee waivers are just part of the total package of incentives the village board is expected to provide to the business, which is a partnership between Pat Leone, whose company, Lion Development II, bought the Village Center in 2014, and Rich Labriola, president of RJL Inc. and Doughboy Restaurant Group LLC. Labriola operates a Pizza Barra location in Oak Brook.
Later this year, the village board is expected to approve a second round of incentives that will include about $100,000 in sales tax rebates over three years.
In exchange, the village would see increased property tax revenues of between $4,500 and $5,000 per year by filling a commercial space that’s been vacant since the building was completed in 2008.
Leone and Labriola have estimated that the buildout of the space, which will seat about 135 inside approximately 5,000 square feet, will cost roughly $1.5 million. The restaurant would employ about 30 people, according to a memo provided to the village board on March 3.
The village would also continue to collect its non-home rule, 1-percent sales tax.
The restaurant, it is hoped, will be an anchor that may also draw other businesses to Riverside’s downtown.
“This is an established restaurant which, as it becomes more and more established, is going to bring people into this town who have never heard of Flur, who have never heard of Fiore, who have never heard of Chew Chew, who have never heard of any restaurant we have in town or any business we have in town,” said Ballerine. “The costs will be recouped in other ways just by sheer visibility.”
Hamilton agreed, saying Riverside needed a business like Pizza Barra to draw enough people to sustain the village’s small downtown.
“It’s just very difficult for a small commercial area,” Hamilton said. “I think the fact that [the Pizza Barra partners] are willing to invest this type of money in Riverside is just terrific, and I’m happy to do whatever I can to bring them here.”
On Feb. 24, the Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission also approved a site plan amendment for the Village Center property, which will allow for Pizza Barra to remove two outdoor, at-grade parking spaces to allow the restaurant to locate its walk-in cooler unit outside the north wall of the building.
The number of parking spaces at the Village Center was a contentious issue during the review process for the mixed-use development, and the builders ended up paying the village $85,000, in lieu of providing a full complement of 59 parking spaces.
However, because of changes to the plan after it was approved by the village, the development, including the payment in lieu of parking, ended up with three more spaces than required.
Even with the removal of two spaces, the development remains in compliance with the village rules regarding parking, Village Attorney Michael Marrs told planning and zoning commissioners on Feb. 24.