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updated: 11/17/2020 8:20 PM

Round Lake Beach approves $6.2 million sales tax incentive

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The aging Rollins Commons shopping center in Round Lake Beach will be revamped with a familiar grocery chain as anchor.

Plans by Tony's Finer Foods Enterprise Inc., to refresh the center on the busy southeast corner of Route 83 and Rollins Road are supported by a $6.2 million sales tax incentive.

The company operates Tony's Fresh Market, a family-owned and operated grocery chain founded in 1979 in Chicago, that has expanded to 16 locations in the city and suburbs. This would be the first Lake County location.

Village officials on Monday approved the incentive, which will total $6.2 million over a maximum of 25 years.

"The hope is they go great guns and it doesn't go the full 25 years," said village Administrator Dave Kilbane.

"In this economy, it's exciting to actually get reinvestment in the community," he added.

The village will rebate 50% of the sales tax annually until the total is met. The agreement applies to the entire center but the grocery store rebate increases to 90% for gross sales above $25 million.

As structured, the incentive package applies only to new businesses coming to the community, not existing ones, Kilbane said.

The strip center has been around since about the mid-1970s and once featured a Zayre discount store. It was last updated about 15 years ago, according to Kilbane.

A 69,000-square-foot main space had been anchored by a Garden Fresh grocery, which closed a few years ago. A JOANN fabric and craft store left about a year ago.

"They're buying the entire shopping center with the intent of opening one of their Tony's Fresh food markets," Kilbane said.

Frank Ingraffia, vice-president of corporate operations, said a contract has been signed and the sale is in the due diligence stage.

Should all go smoothly, plans and permits would be secured in winter, with construction in the spring and a second quarter opening anticipated, he said.

The store would be similar to the last two or three new Tony's stores, such as in south suburban Burbank, he said. The chain's concept focuses on produce, "big service" meat department and international offerings.

"We like the demographics in the area," he said. "We feel there's an international customer base that's been underserved."

Meijer, Aldi, Walmart and Jewel are located nearby.

"We feel our concept is unique," Ingraffia said.

Round Lake Beach offered a similar incentive to Meijer, which opened more than four years ago, in the Mallard Creek shopping center just north and west.

In that instance, the village bought the former Walmart property and gave it to Meijer in addition to a sales tax agreement as part of a continuing effort to broaden the village's tax base.

"You have to be careful when reinvesting money like this that it's benefiting the community," Kilbane said.