Woodstock Harley-Davidson plans $4.5 million relocation

WOODSTOCK – Woodstock Harley-Davidson and the city have reached an incentive deal that will facilitate a $4.5 million relocation of the motorcycle seller and service center.

Woodstock will pay the business up to $275,000 over the next seven years to cover costs of a move from 2050 S. Eastwood Drive to 2235 S. Eastwood Drive, the current location of a Sears Apparel Outlet store formerly occupied by K-Mart. The dealership is guaranteed $150,000 of the incentive package and can earn an additional $125,000 based on how much sales tax it generates.

The Woodstock City Council unanimously approved the plan Tuesday night.

Doug Jackson, general manager of Woodstock Harley-Davidson, said management had looked at other options, including building a dealership along Route 47 toward Route 176.

But the incentive package and support from city officials persuaded him and his partners, Tracy Lancaster and Arnold Horwich, Jackson said.

"It was more appealing to think about building," he said. "That support from them helped make the decision easier."

In addition to the Sears Outlet, the building is occupied by Habitat for Humanity Restore and Cuppy's Coffee.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the city has been in talks with Restore to find a new location within Woodstock. He said he wasn't aware of any future plans for the Sears outlet to reopen.

In July, the city amended its economic incentive program to include businesses that operate within the city limits. To receive incentives, existing businesses must show that their relocation or renovation will meet certain criteria like adding jobs and increasing the city's tax base.

In a report submitted to the city, Jackson estimates Harley's relocation will bring an additional $20,000 in sales tax the first year and an additional $50,000 by years five and six. He estimates the dealership, which employs the equivalent of about 50 full-time employees, will hire an additional three employees as a result of the growth.

Woodstock Harley-Davidson currently brings in more than $22 million in revenue per year, the highest among Illinois Harley dealers, according to the report.

The dealership's owner, Vroom Vroom LLC, had been leasing the current space – which is about 44,000 square feet with a 12,000 square foot outbuilding – but had been seeking other options since talks to purchase the building fell through more than six months ago.

The dealership also rents for storage another 77,000 square-feet in the old Farm & Fleet building, but will discontinue that lease when the new building is ready.

Ownership might have to get creative with storage space, they said, but the new, 91,000-square-foot location will offer an opportunity to expand that the last building didn't, Lancaster said.

"We were busting at the seams at our current location," he said.

In all, Vroom Vroom will pay an estimated $2.8 million to acquire the new site and another $1.5 million to renovate.

Nationwide, Harley has experienced a rebound in 2012 and 2013 after being hit hard by the recession. Jackson said the Woodstock location fared better than most in 2008 and 2009, but is enjoying a similar upturn lately.

"If we're coming out of this economic downturn and we did well in those years, we can continue to come out of it and prosper," he said.

Note to Readers: This story has been corrected from incorrect information provided to the Northwest Herald. There are no immediate plans to move Habitat for Humanity's Restore.

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