Antioch considers $200,000 incentive for new restaurant

Antioch officials are considering another big investment to spark activity in the village's traditional downtown.

Investors are seeking a $200,000 incentive from the village to convert a vacant building at 945 Main St. (Route 83) into the Rivalry Ale House, a two-story restaurant with an all-season atrium and upper, outdoor eating area.

A request for a conditional license to use the adjacent municipal parking lot for a beer garden also is part of the estimated $1.5 million project on the southern entry to downtown.

"We're trying to make that a destination," said Jim Donohoe, managing partner of an the investment group pursuing the project. "It's going to be kind of a 'Wow' factor."

Village Trustee Jerry Johnson is an investor in the building but not the business, and he would be the landlord, Donohoe said. Johnson has recused himself from discussions about the potential incentive.

Flo's Family Hair Care had operated in the single-story building that has been vacant two years. As proposed, the existing 6,000-square-foot building would be expanded to 9,800 square feet, according to Michael Garrigan, community development director.

Garrigan said the group is seeking $200,000 for materials and the license to use a portion of the underused municipal lot.

It would be the second large recent investment by the village to improve the downtown. Last August, the village approved a $250,000 grant for building improvements to remodel a long-vacant Ben Franklin store for the Lovin Oven Cakery, which opened in late January.

"We're not any different from any other town trying to keep a thriving community," Mayor Larry Hanson said of incentives.

Village Trustee Mary Dominiak, the board's liaison for economic development, agreed, saying residents in surveys have called for more dining and entertainment options and to improve the area's appearance.

"This is an opportunity to spark investment in the downtown," she said.

Village Administrator Jim Keim said proposals are scrutinized and many more are rejected than considered.

"We only want to provide what is necessary for large, private investment," he said. "We listened to the people and are trying to be very wise."

Donohoe also owns and operates The Lodge, just north on Main Street. He described that business as serving pub food in a Northwoods atmosphere. Rivalry Ale House will be a "totally different venue" and would not cannibalize the other business, he said.

Lovin Oven is in an enormous 43,000-square-foot building at 455 Lake St., on the western edge of downtown that had been vacant for three years. It was considered functionally obsolete and needed extensive renovations, including a new roof and mechanical systems.

One condition requires 80 percent of the grant be refunded if the bakery is out of business in two years.

The village board will consider an incentive package for Rivalry Ale House during its board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at village hall, 874 Main St.

Rendering of Rivalry Ale House proposed for 945 Main St. in downtown Antioch. Courtesy of Village of Antioch
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