New eatery on tap for Des Plaines' Metropolitan Square

A new eatery may be on tap for Des Plaines' downtown shopping center.

Tap House Grill is proposing to take over the former Jimmy Buffett-themed Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in Metropolitan Square that has stood vacant for nearly two years.

The chain currently operates seven restaurants in the suburbs, including in Glen Ellyn, St. Charles and Westmont, and is opening one in Palatine.

The proposal for a ninth location in Des Plaines received a green light from the city's Economic Development Commission earlier this week. Plans are expected to go before the city council for review at its June 3 meeting, Mayor Matt Bogusz said Thursday.

If approved by the council, the restaurant would open in September.

“We're approaching business differently now,” Bogusz said, adding that city staff moved quickly after the proposal was submitted late last week. “We need to move at the speed of local business, if we're going to be business friendly.”

The project would require the city to spend $80,000 from its downtown tax increment financing district to help finance the remodeling of the nearly 6,700-square-foot building, estimated to cost more than $700,000, officials said.

“It's going to be a total overhaul,” Bogusz said. “We want to partner with businesses that want to grow with Des Plaines. We're excited about the potential of our downtown.”

In a TIF district, extra property tax revenue generated by redevelopment is used to help pay for some of the costs of projects like Metropolitan Square. The center generated $75,183 of the roughly $4.2 million in property tax revenues anticipated from the downtown TIF in 2012. The downtown TIF is expected to generate $4 million in property taxes in 2013, according to city officials.

Bogusz said he hopes the Tap House Grill will build momentum for filling vacancies at Metropolitan Square. The center emerged from foreclosure in May 2012 after Austin-based World Class Capital Group, LLC, acquired it for about $6.5 million. The loan outstanding on the property was $17 million.

The shopping center, located north of Miner Street near Northwest Highway and Lee Street, opened in 2006 and is anchored by Shop-N-Save, which covers a third of the total square footage and is the center's biggest draw. Only a handful of businesses remain, including a Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Panera Bread that generate much of the lunchtime foot traffic.

A spokesman for World Class Capital Group could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Another project under way in the shopping center is the remodeling of three storefronts totaling roughly 11,000 square feet to accommodate a new Elite fitness center. The space, on the southwest side of the center across from the former Cheeseburger in Paradise, formerly held Coldstone Creamery, World Gym and Spa di da.

“This also comes with capital improvements that we're doing to our downtown streetscape,” Bogusz said. “Our downtown is going to look and feel a lot different when all this work is done.”

New optimism for Des Plaines shopping center

  Des Plaines Mayor Matt Bogusz hopes there will be fewer “For Lease” signs posted at downtown storefronts in Metropolitan Square once a new restaurant and fitness center open there. If approved by the city council, the restaurant would open in September JOE LEWNARD/
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