Subaru ready to begin construction in Elgin

Updated 9/26/2013 5:50 PM

Construction of a new Subaru car dealership in Elgin is expected to start in about two weeks, as soon as the city council gives final approval.

The council approved 7-1 on Wednesday a petition for annexation, zoning and plan development for Brilliance Subaru on five acres at 1500 Randall Road, across from Advocate Sherman Hospital. Construction plans include preserving a 200-year-old white oak on the property.

Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger cast the only dissenting vote. Councilman Toby Shaw was absent.

Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said Kevin Keefe, who owns Brilliance Honda in Crystal Lake, contacted the Elgin Development Group about opening a Subaru dealership in Elgin.

The auto mall on Randall Road and I-90 was "not economically feasible," so the group looked at other locations on Randall Road, he said.

Keefe declined to say why he didn't pick the auto mall.

A foreclosure lawsuit was filed in November by U.S. Bank National Association against Randall 90 LLC, Michael H. Rose and others. The case is due in court Oct. 8. Attorneys for both parties did not return calls for comment.

Brilliance Subaru is investing $6.8 million in the project, and will have 60 to 70 full-time employees, officials said.

The agreement with the city includes no building fees and a 25 percent sales tax rebate for the next 10 years.

The city council is expected to give the final green light to the project on Oct. 9, and Keefe intends to break ground "the very next day," Kozal said.

"We have the good fortune of getting the hottest automobile brand" in the country, he said.

The nearest Subaru dealerships are in McHenry, Schaumburg, Rockford and Aurora, Keefe said. "There is a big void in this part of the state," he said.

Businesses and corporations ask for incentives "as a matter of course," pitting community against community, Rauschenberger said. " I feel like somebody has to toe the line or make a line in the sand and say, 'It's enough," she said.

Councilman Terry Gavin said incentives are necessary to attract car dealerships.

"Unfortunately, that's the way the game is played," he said.

Last month, the city council approved an economic incentive agreement with Butera Market for a store in Elgin's northwest side. Rauschenberger, who's involved in efforts to start a co-op grocery store in Elgin, abstained from voting. Councilman John Prigge cast the only "no" vote.

"(Car dealership employees) do receive more wages than someone at grocery store. It's not minimum-wage jobs," Prigge said.

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