East Dundee will reimburse local businessman Tom Roeser 40 percent of the more than $1 million he's pumping into the 57-year-old Anvil Club's renovations, a building officials say is a cornerstone to downtown's ongoing revitalization.
The village board agreed Monday night to give Roeser $416,000, money Village President Lael Miller said would likely come out of a tax increment finance district, an area in which property tax assessments are frozen for 23 years. Officials use the extra tax revenue generated by the improved property for infrastructure and other improvements within the designated district.
The money Roeser will receive includes a $341,000 reimbursement for the private club's interior renovations and a $75,000 facade grant.
"To me, this should be a no-brainer at this point now," Trustee Michael Ruffulo said via teleconference before the vote. "It's something the whole village can enjoy. Mr. Roeser ... has done so many good things for our village."
Not everyone has been quick to sing Roeser's praises.
The Fox Valley Libertarian Party has opposed the project from the beginning, dubbed the deal a "corporate bailout" and staged weekly demonstrations outside the club in October. Roeser is president and chief executive officer of Otto Engineering, the largest employer in Carpentersville. He has also bought and rehabilitated several buildings in East Dundee and helped bring new businesses downtown.
Meanwhile, none of the party's members attended Monday's board meeting. Party President Julie Fox could not be reached for comment.
East Dundee Trustee Allen Skillicorn also objected to the project because the members-only club isn't open to the public and its enhancements, in his view, won't benefit the larger population.
"I fully appreciate what Tom Roeser's doing in town. I think he's a hero by taking on that property. I think that will be a success, but when I ran for trustee, I made a commitment that all redevelopment had to have a public-private infrastructure part," Skillicorn said. "And since this one doesn't have a public part where everyone can utilize it, like streets and sewers or something, I just have to vote 'nay.'"
In a previous interview, Roeser, who could not be reached for comment Monday, said he never would have bought the club if East Dundee didn't help him with the investment he's making in the village.
Roeser's purchase of the supper club was finalized in November, and renovations are underway.
By the time it's finished, the club will offer, among other items, new windows, oak floors, a new veranda, a new menu, a new bar and even new uniforms for the staff members.