Uncle Joe's Tuscan Fresh Market, the new Rolling Meadows grocery store that will anchor the Meadows Marketplace shopping center on Kirchoff Road, has cleared several hurdles with the city, allowing its developer to start leasing smaller storefronts in the center, Mayor Tom Rooney said.
The next step is for the company to submit drawings to seek permits from city staff, said Valerie Dehner, community development director, who expects that to occur in May. Uncle Joe's hopes to open by Oct. 1.
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A sizable minority of the city council objected earlier this month to the extent of the tax breaks given to the grocery store and the developer.
Alderman Brad Judd of the 4th Ward led the opposition, said he favors working with Uncle Joe's and Clark Street, but he thinks the tax money given them is too much. Under the contract with the city, the store will receive 50 percent of the city sales tax it generates, up to $200,000 annually until the company receives a total of $1.8 million. He wants Uncle Joe's required to refund all its sales tax money if it leaves the site within 15 years. The store has a 13-year lease.
Representatives of Uncle Joe's and Clark Street Development, the owner of the almost vacant shopping center on Kirchoff Road, could not be reached for comment.
The contract was approved April 9 without the 15-year requirement on a 4-3 vote, with Jim Allen of the 2nd Ward, Laura Majikes of the 3rd Ward, John D'Astice of the 6th and Jim Larsen of the 7th supporting it. Mike Cannon of the 1st Ward and Robert Banger Jr. of the 5th Ward joined Judd in voting no.
The council also asked Cook County to reduce the assessment on the property for 12 years.
Judd calculated Uncle Joe's tax breaks and city contributions total $4.5 million.
Rooney said the total is less than that, saying $700,000 of tax increment financing money would have gone by law to anyone who bought the property.
The mayor added that the shopping center sat vacant since Dominick's left about nine years ago, and would never have been redeveloped without the city's financial help. Rooney said he favors larger tax breaks for Uncle Joe's than he would if the property were in better shape, or the companies involved were "big box" national corporations. Uncle Joe's is a startup business, taking a risk on the property, he said.
Rooney also said he does not think Uncle Joe's will hurt business at the Jewel-Osco on the north side of Kirchoff Road, because he believes most people who will shop at Uncle Joe's presently shop outside Rolling Meadows and will come there largely for the fresh produce.