McHenry microbrewery asks for TIF reimbursement

McHENRY – The owner of a McHenry microbrewery hopes to recoup some of the costs of installing a handicapped-accessible ramp.

The McHenry City Council on Monday evening will consider a request from Curt Ames, the owner of Chain O’ Lakes Brewing Co., to reimburse him the $17,585 it cost to install the ramp at 3425 Pearl St.

“Like any other small business, you rapidly see all your resources deplete, and that’s where I’m at,” Ames said. “Everything has gone over budget because we’re trying to maintain the historical nature of the building. The [reimbursement] will ensure that we will be able to do all we want to do for the building.”

Ames hopes to open a microbrewery at the former site of the McHenry Brewing Co., which closed its doors 70 years ago. The property has been empty since the Green Pearl Restaurant closed in June 2010.

The building has sat vacant for many years primarily because it did not have a handicapped-accessible entrance, according to a council report prepared by Deputy City Administrator Doug Martin.

The report recommends the approval of the reimbursement because a business there would benefit the entire area.

It is within the city’s tax increment financing district, which was established in 2002. The district includes the Riverside Drive and Green Street downtown areas.

If the council approves Ames’ request, the reimbursement will be paid over time using only revenue generated by any increase in that property’s value, not from the district as a whole.

“It will help me,” Ames said. “It’s not a huge significant help, but every little bit helps.”

Ames has encountered some unexpected costs as he converts the former restaurant, he said.

He had hoped to use the bar and upstairs cooler, but because the upstairs is not handicapped-accessible, he had to install a cooler downstairs, and county health department rules required him to replace the wood-paneled bar.

Ames said he hopes to have the place open in time for Fiesta Days.

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