Hotel plan for Crossroads Art District advances to full council

crossroadsTwo long vacant historic buildings in the Crossroads Arts District could be redeveloped, unless tax break opponents stop it.

The city council today could give final approval for sales tax breaks on a project that would convert the Crossroad’s historic Pabst Brewing Co. and Pendergast buildings to a boutique hotel.

The plans and zoning committee on Wednesday recommended approval and advanced the measure.

The project, praised by neighbors and historic preservation activists, sets up another possible confrontation with opponents of tax breaks for developers in the Crossroads Arts District.

Opponents recently killed another praised Crossroads project by delaying it for a public vote.

Now the Aparium Hotel Group of Chicago wants to convert the historic buildings, vacant for 20 years, into what it says would be a special hotel that locals would visit.

It would include work and exhibits by local artists and an upscale restaurant intended to attract area residents, they say.

The company was also the first to pay $20,000 to go through a new outside audit intended to scale any tax breaks down to just what is needed for the project.

The sales tax break would allow money raised there to go toward the project. The company says it will request other tax breaks – overall $1.8 million less than allowed by law – and will continue to pay at least $42,000 a year in property taxes that are due now.

If completed, the project will eventually pay $330,000 a year in taxes, officials said.

The project would create 150 jobs that pay about $40,000 a year and developers pledge $1.5 million will go to local artisans.

The Pabst and Pendergast buildings are at 2101 and 2107 Central St. The Pabst building went up as a bottling plant in 1911 and later expanded into the building boss Tom Pendergast used for his distilling company in the 1920s.

Suzie Aron, former president of the Crossroads Community Association, said the long-vacant, graffiti-scared complex is clearly blighted.

“Everyone can see it and everyone cares what the heck is going to happen to it,” she said.

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