Gurnee OKs $1.5 million incentive plan to attract Cooper's Hawk
The Gurnee village board approved an incentive package worth up to $1.5 million for the construction of a new Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant on the parking lot of the old Lowe's Home Improvement store.
The plan calls for Kensington Development Group LLC to build a 10,500-square-foot commercial building at 7735 Grand Ave. near the intersection of Rollins Road and Grand Avenue on the west side of the village.
Once the restaurant opens, which officials estimate to happen in November 2023, the village will pay Kensington $600,000. Then, over the next six years, the village will provide up to $900,000 in sales tax rebates to Kensington.
Outgoing Mayor Kristina Kovarik said at Monday's meeting that getting a Cooper's Hawk in town has long been on the village's wish list. Cooper's Hawk has been mentioned as a desirable tenant by about a dozen different developers in the last three years.
Kovarik said the village staff did a great job getting the plan done.
"We probably were not at the top of Cooper's Hawk's list," Kovarik said. "But we did a good sales job, Kensington did a good sales job, and it's the incentives that are really bringing this to us."
Gurnee Economic Development Director Ellen Dean said that under the plan Kensington will invest $7.5 million in the project, $4.5 million of that on the building alone. She said the plan also calls for Kensington to sign Cooper's Hawk to a 15-year lease.
Dean said the village sees Cooper's Hawk as a destination that will attract customers to town and benefit other businesses in the Grand Avenue corridor.
With this plan in place, the village's goal of breathing life into the former Lowe's Home Improvement complex is well on its way.
Work is underway to convert the old store into College of Lake County's first Advanced Technology Center. The center is designed to be a place for students to earn degrees in machining, manufacturing, welding, fabrication and industrial maintenance.
Once the incentive plan was unanimously approved by the board, Kovarik said it was her parting gift to the village of Gurnee.
"It's my last big economic development initiative," said Kovarik, who has served as mayor since 2005 but chose not to seek a fifth term. "I will come back for the opening."
Cooper's Hawk has 45 locations in 10 states, with 13 in the Chicago area. The most recent location opened in Morton Grove at the end of March, and Kensington served as the developer on that project as well, Dean said.