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Daily Journal
     April 22, 2020      #44-113 KDJ

Council OK's deal with Ricky Rockets 

By Lee Provost

KANKAKEE — The new redevelopment agreement for the Ricky Rockets Fuel Center could net Kankakee budget up to $6 million of additional revenue versus the agreement originally approved by the council more than five years ago.

The redevelopment agreement eliminated 20 years of sales and gaming tax-sharing language, which would have amounted to about $8 million of tax revenue based on the former agreement, noted city comptroller Elizabeth Kubal at Monday’s Kankakee City Council meeting.

Even with Kankakee providing $2.2 million of upfront infrastructure work, the city will benefit between $5 million to $6 million, depending on sales and gaming receipts, Kubal said.

The net result is a much more positive outcome for the city, Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong noted just before council members unanimously approved the agreement.

Rick Heidner, of Hoffman Estates and owner of Ricky Rockets, is working on finalizing financing for the project, which is expected to cost between $10 million to $12 million, the city’s legal firm noted during discussions. The firm noted it anticipates development financing to be completed within 14 days or so.

If all goes as planned, the 7th Ward project could be underway by mid-2020 and the location is expected to be ready for business by the first quarter of 2021.

Per the development agreement, attorney Burt Odelson said the sales tax money will help add about $250,000 annually toward the payments to the city’s underfunded police and fire pension accounts. He also noted that because the property is in the East Court Street Tax Increment Financing District, the new revenues going into the account should help woe potential business development into this area.

The administration also noted that ownership anticipates 20 full- and part-time jobs being created to operate the fuel center and car wash and another 20 to 40 full- and part-time jobs for the yet-to-be-announced fast-food restaurant.

In days of such bleak economic news, this development is a ray of a light for an area in need of uplifting news.

The site for the development is the location where the Kmart store once stood for many years, just east of the Interstate 57 at the 312 interchange.

The city is dedicating $1.2 million for construction of the new North Eastgate Drive and another $1 million for such work as interior roads, sidewalks and landscaping, among other expenses. The $1.2 million is being borrowed from the Exit 308 TIF district on the city’s south side. Those funds are expected to be repaid by mid summer as the city will be selling bonds.

“This is a first major development project taking lace on the east side of town and a gateway into our city. I believe it will pay great dividends from this day moving forward,” the mayor noted.

City planner Mike Hoffman said an offshoot of the project is the extension of North Eastridge Drive. The extension not only provides more access to the project, but creates a new front door into the Eastgate Industrial Park — just east of the site — helping promote development of some 290 acres of industrially zoned property.

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Lee Provost
With the Clean Ticket Company, your money goes to those who do the work!
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