Tom Roeser, president and chief executive officer of Otto Engineering, entered into a letter of agreement this week to buy the 57-year-old Anvil Club in East Dundee, and if the sale becomes final, the club would become one of about a half dozen properties Roeser owns in the village.
Roeser partnered with East Dundee last year to improve and bring businesses to its downtown. The Anvil Club, he said, might be the most important downtown business of all.
"This is an iconic business for East Dundee and it needs a greater investment in it than the current owners are either willing or able to do," Roeser said Thursday.
Roeser, a club member, said his goals are to ensure the supper club stays around for another 57 years and that people embrace the club as an important part of their community. As such, he will help renovate the club and one day invite the public to see what the club is all about.
The club's ownership secured a matching $75,000 grant from the village to renovate the building's facade, a project that started earlier this week. Roeser said he plans on spending more than $150,000 on the exterior renovations. He doesn't have a dollar amount for the interior work and needs to talk to the membership about what it would involve.
The East Dundee village board Monday voted 4 to 1 to give the club money from a tax increment finance district toward the interior renovations, Village President Lael Miller said. The board also didn't set a dollar figure for the assistance because it has to hear back from the club on the work that needs to be done.
"We're not committing to anything yet until we see anything (financial) come in," Miller said. "It's a two-step process where we say, 'Yes we would like to enter into an agreement' and the second step is we get all the numbers."
In a TIF district, property tax assessments are frozen for 23 years.
The extra tax revenue generated by the improved property is used for infrastructure and other improvements within the designated district. It's used as a tool to spur development within the district and to attract other business.
The Fox Valley Libertarian Party takes issue with a private club receiving a "corporate bailout" for the renovations through a TIF.
The group has been protesting outside the club every Saturday since late September.
"They've been in business for over 57 years. These improvements that they have stated they need to keep the club viable ... this is stuff that should have been done over those 57 years," said Kelly Liebmann, a Libertarian Party member.
Had TIF assistance not been an option, Roeser, who would not divulge the purchase price, said it was unlikely he would have sought to buy the club.
The sale should be finalized by next week, Roeser said.