When I read Lakewood Village President’s State of the Village speech I found a reference to using the current Village Hall site for a restaurant.
So I filed a Freedom of Information request for documents relating to the topic.
I picked them up yesterday.
Included was $14,750 worth of restaurant drawings from Zion’s Master’s Restaurant Group. (The company asked for a $2,500 a month retainer.)
Yesterday, a coincidence I imagine, the Village issued the following press release:
Initial Renderings of Restaurant
The Village of Lakewood has been exploring the feasibility of creating a unique dining experience at the current Village Hall site located on Crystal Lake.
This initiative was identified some time ago during a series of charrettes or planning/visioning sessions with our residents. A restaurant in this prime location would not only fill a need within the community, it offers an opportunity to showcase the spirit and essence of the Lakewood community.
While the process is still ongoing, the Village has received a number of inquiries regarding the status of the restaurant project.
Understandably, there has been significant interest in such an endeavor, as it would serve as a premier destination within the County.
As a result of this interest, the Village has chosen to share the initial renderings of a restaurant concept for this location.
As the owner of the development site, the Village engaged Barker/Nestor Architecture & Design to prepare these renderings which will continue to be refined over the coming months to more closely meet the needs of the project.
While the final product may look different, the Village is excited to share the vision of the possibilities for transforming this property.
The Village has been working with a talented restaurant management group, which would ultimately be responsible for construction oversight and the management of the daily restaurant operations.
They are currently seeking investors to bring the project to fruition. Any questions or inquiries regarding this project can be directed to Village Manager Catherine Peterson at (815) 459-3025.
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From looking at what was provided pursuant to my FOIA request, the building will have at least two floors and possible three. In the two story version, a banquet room would overlook the lake.
The seating of various permutations ranges from 52 to 300 seats with 16-118 outside and 36 to 182 inside.
Village officials seems to have some urgency to get the project moving because of pending changes in the Stormwater Management Ordinance.
Initial interest developed because of a social gathering in which a village official met the son of an internationally famous chef. His name has been blacked out in all documents and, apparently, on the signs on the rendering seen above. The chef seems to dropped out of the picture.
There has been more activity on the restaurant since January than on the SportsPlex. according to the documents I have reviewed.
Mentioned in a February 10, 2014, email is EB-5 funding. That’s the program some call “buy a visa” in which the investment of $500,000 can result in going to the head of the immigration line.
Fifty full-time jobs are mentioned. Hong Kong, China is mentioned, along with the figure $4 million. There is also talk of an European investor and a local investor.
I can’t figure out the relevance to a restaurant located where the Village Hall is, because that is not in the EB-5 district. That district covers just the Dorr Township part of Lakewood.
In April of last year, one email from someone in touch with “a seasoned investor” muses he “wants to make sure there is sufficient demand for the restaurant in the area and understand the incentives the Village is providing (i.e, term of the lease, etc.).”
Here’s a thought to enhance value of the village hall property:
Why not reserve the top floor of the new building for condos or apartments?
They would have an unparalleled view of Crystal Lake and undoubtedly could be sold or rented.
While we don’t know whether there will be enough demand for a high end restaurant to make it pay without a renowned chef’s name attached to it, we do know that people like to look at water from where they live.