Work underway at Gurnee's Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Work on a new Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant in the parking lot of the old Lowe's Home Improvement store in Gurnee is underway, and village staff says it is likely to open in the new year.
Village leaders approved the plan in April for a 10,630-square-foot commercial building at 7799 Grand Ave., near the intersection of Rollins Road and Grand Avenue on the west side of town.
Workers have been doing site work, including removing landscaping and preparing for the installation of underground utilities, Gurnee Assistant Village Administrator Jack Linehan said Thursday. Officials also are reviewing the building plans.
Linehan said all signs point toward at 2022 opening.
In April, the village board also authorized an up to $1.5 million incentive package toward the project's construction.
Outgoing Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik said at the time getting a Cooper's Hawk in town has long been on the village's wish list and that the restaurant chain has been mentioned as a desirable tenant by about a dozen different developers over the last three years.
Under the plan, once the restaurant opens, the village will pay developer Kensington Developments Group LLC $600,000. Then over the next six years, the village will provide up to $900,000 in sales tax rebates to Kensington. The plan also calls for Kensington to sign a 15-year lease with Cooper's Hawk. According to village staff, Kensington will invest $7.5 million in the project, $4.5 million of that on the building alone.
In the spring, Kovarik, who served 16 years as mayor, touted the plan as her last major economic development initiative and said she would come back for the restaurant's opening.
Cooper's Hawk has 45 locations in 10 states, including 13 in the Chicago area.
The most recent location opened in Morton Grove at the end of March. Kensington was the developer on that project, as well.
Cooper's Hawk is not the only major project at the old Lowe's store. Work is underway to convert the Lowe's into the College of Lake County's first Advanced Technology Center, which school officials say is positioned to provide 40% of the county's skilled labor force in the next five years. Students can earn degrees in machining, manufacturing, welding, fabrication and industrial technology there. It will feature training with some of the same machines used at modern manufacturing plants.
Phase one of the Advanced Technology Center project is expected to cost $34 million, officials said, and work should be completed in July 2022.