GENEVA – Geneva aldermen voted 6-4 on July 9 to approve a development deal for a development incentive package that would give Dunkin’ Donuts a $70,000 grant and a sales tax rebate up to $102,000 to situate a store at 206 E. State St.
Mayor Kevin Burns advised that no money will change hands as a result of the night’s vote, as the development proposal still has to go to the Plan Commission for review of the building, landscaping and traffic before it comes back to the council for a final vote.
The deal would spur much-needed redevelopment on the city’s east side, Economic Development Director Cathleen Tymoszenko said at the June 25 Committee of the Whole.
The redevelopment deal meets the requirements of the tax increment finance district where the property is located – a former gas station that has been vacant since 2014, Tymoszenko had said at a June 25 Committee of the Whole meeting. Aldermen also voted 6-4 then to recommend the redevelopment deal.
Several residents objected to a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee group being able to get tax support for their business – especially when it will compete with Fresh Donuts, 1188 E. State St., an independent donut shop less than a mile away.
Doug Strohm said he objected to giving the franchise group money to set up a business in Geneva.
“It is counter-productive and against the best interests of the taxpayers,” Strohm said.
Sonita Chheng, owner of Fresh Donuts, which is less than a mile from the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts, presented aldermen with a petition of 1,200 signatures against the financing deal.
Strohm read a statement from Chheng in which she said her opposition was not to Dunkin’ Donuts opening there, but to the franchisee getting the city’s taxes to support it.
“If bankers and investors do not back this project, why should the taxpayers of Geneva?” Strohm said, reading from Chheng’s statement.
Debbie Hanson, an east side resident, said she supported the proposal.
“I work, shop and play in Geneva and I’ve been disappointed for years at a lack of a coffee shop or diner on our side of town,” Hanson said. “Randall Road is overkill, yet my side of town is almost vacant.”
Barry Millman of Horizon Realty Services Inc., a real estate broker representing Dunkin’ Donuts, said the franchise was not trying to grab business away from Fresh Donuts or other competitors.
“The person who is selling us this property is the landlord for Fresh Donuts,” Millman said. “If he felt there was going to be a negative impact on their store, I’m sure he would have thought twice about selling the property to Dunkin.”
Tom Thiem, manager and director of State Street Donuts and who manages the Dunkin’ Donuts in St. Charles, said the presence of the chain doughnut shop would not have a negative impact on Fresh Donuts because doughnuts are only about 15 percent to 20 percent of Dunkin’s business.
“There’s plenty of doughnuts to go around,” Thiem said. “She does have great doughnuts there. ... We’re not looking to put anyone out of business.”
Thiem said the financial need for the TIF grant and the sales tax rebate was because of the cost of the land.
The asking price for the property was $849,000, but the owner reduced the price to $700,000 as shown in the Redevelopment Agreement budget, officials stated in an email.
Aldi’s and CVS, which also manage successful portfolios, received TIF grants and sales tax rebate assistance from the city for redevelopment projects along East State Street, according to an email.