March 28, 2013
The board is offering Bushalmost $68,000 in tax incre-mental financing assistance,in the form of three grants, onthe condition that he providethe village with a letter of credit for about $42,000 andthat he builds a banquet hallby Dec. 31, 2015.Bush is expected to sign acontract with the village butis still awaiting final approv-al of a loan through a stateagency, Wisconsin BusinessDevelopment.Bush plans to build a 4,933square-foot restaurant withtwo volleyball courts that canbe made either indoor or out-door at the corner of ConcordDrive and Wolfe Street in thevillage’s TIF 4 Redevelop-ment District.The 100-plus seat combi-nation restaurant and bar is ascaled back version of whatBush first proposed a yearago. He plans to build thefacility in two phases.The first phase will includethe restaurant, bar and vol-leyball courts. Constructionon phase one will begin assoon as the site is prepared,Bush said. That could take afew months due to poor soilconditions that will requiresurcharging the land, a pro-cess in which one-and-a-half times the weight of the build-ing is placed on the lot tosqueeze out water and com-pact the soil.According to the village’scontract with Bush, he musthave the restaurant substan-tially complete by the endof the year. He must alsosubstantially complete thesecond phase of the project,a 2,400-square-foot banquethall, by no later than the endof 2015.If he doesn’t meet thatdeadline, Bush will have torepay a $42,860 grant fromthe village.The board offered him atotal of $67,860 in TIF assis-tance, all of which will bepaid back through the taxincrement the project gener-ates, except for $9,000.“The $9,000 TIF grant isbecause he’s in a TIF Dis-trict, and that’s appropriate,”explained village administra-tor Mike Gracz.“The $42,860 is the incen-tive for him to build the ban-quet hall. The board feelsthere’s a need for that in thecommunity and so they’regiving him an incentive tobuild one.”He said the $9,000 is “sortof a boost because of thechallenging soil problems”on the 2.3-acre lot. Bush willalso receive up to $16,000 forpermit and connection fees.During discussion prior tothe board’s 5-2 vote to offerBush a contract, trustee JerryBollig stressed that most of the funding will be returnedto the village through prop-erty taxes that would not becoming in without the devel-opment.Village President SteveStaton voted in favor of theproposal, along with trust-ees David Donovan, RandyWay, Darlene Groenier andBollig. Trustees Eric Pooleand Phil Harms opposed theoffer, primarily because theydon’t think the village shouldprovide financing for a res-taurant.
What to TIF
From his perspective, Bushdoesn’t think the village ishelping fund construction of the restaurant.“They are not willing toTIF a restaurant,” he said.“They are only willing to TIFthe banquet facility, but withwhat they’re offering me Ican’t afford to do both at thesame time. I could have if they’d given me what I askedfor.”In January, Bush metwith village officials seek-ing $119,000 in TIF assis-tance. The board rejected therequest but met a week laterand tentatively offered himabout half that amount.That’s when he decidedto build the project in twophases.When he first approachedthe village about building therestaurant/volleyball com-plex a year ago, Bush didn’tknow about the poor soilconditions on the site. At thetime, he’d planned to buildfour volleyball courts – twoindoor and two outdoor – anda two-story building. He hadrequested TIF assistance butsaid he could make his $1.25million project work withoutthe financial assistance.After taking soil borings,he learned the ground thereis composed of “very loose,silty clays” and would haveto be surcharged for at least60 days before constructioncould begin.Surcharging the site wouldinvolve removing about twofeet of top soil and then haul-ing in heavy rock and gravelto dump on the site and com-press the soil.He figured the pro-cess would add more than$300,000 to the cost of theproject, and asked in May2012 for about $216,000 inTIF assistance, which the vil-lage board rejected.Since then, Bush haschanged the location of theproject, first looking at near-by lot on Park Street andrecently moving back to theoriginal site. He’s also scaledback the size of the building,from first having a basementand a second floor to the cur-rent plan of a larger footprint,but without a basement or asecond floor.
The building plan
By now, Bush should benearly an expert at restau-rant design. In addition to themany iterations of his projecthere, he is the owner/opera-tor of Deaks’ Pub and Grillin Stoughton, which he’s runfor about five years.He also helped design andmanage a restaurant and barin Verona, and before that hemanaged The Stadium Bar inMadison.He and his wife, Miranda,own a home in Oregon andhave three children. Mirandaowns and runs The Zone Fit-ness and Training in Oregon.Bush said one of the mostunusual things about his cur-rent plan is the indoor/out-door volleyball courts he’sdesigned.“We have an outdoor areathat has all four walls thatcan actually be removed,” heexplained. “In the summer-time the only wall that youhave is a wall between themain building and the volley-ball area. So it’s completelyoutside, like a patio.“But then in the winter,you open that wall and closethe other three walls and itbecomes an extension of themain building. So I can alsohave an indoor/outdoor firepit,” he added. “I workedreally hard on that design.It’s awesome.”Other features of the proj-ect include “very tall” ceil-ings in the main bar of 16feet.The main dining room willhave about 60 seats, withanother 50 or 60 in the bar,Bush said.“It’ll be around 100 seats,plus more on the left side of the patio,” he explained. “Onthe south side of the patioit’s going to be lower seat-ing, and then as yougo north toward thecourt you run into thisindoor-outdoor facil-ity. There will be abar and then two firepits as kind of a natu-ral barrier, and thenseating on the patio,and then the seating towatch the volleyball.”His initial planswere for about 16full-time employeesand about 40 part-time, although thoseprojections may havedropped a bit sincereducing the buildingsize.Public Works direc-tor Mark Below said Bushstill needs final approval of his building plan. He notedthat the Planning Commis-sion has seen the latest plantwice recently and “didn’thave any objections.”
What village officialssay
Staton has been in sup-port of Bush’s plan from thebeginning, although he hasnot always backed his financ-ing requests. But Statonsaid he’s satisfied with theboard’s latest proposal.He also thinks having Bushand his business in Oregonwill be an asset.“Jamie does a lot of thingsin the community,” he said.“His commitment to the Vil-lage of Oregon I think is areal plus for that business.He clearly wanted to be inOregon, otherwise he wouldhave bailed on this project along time ago.”Staton thinks “the decidingfactor” in the board makingan offer to Bush “was if wewanted to get something onthat piece of property now ortaking a chance that it mightsit there as a vacant lot for along time.”But Harms and Poole sawthe situation differently.Harms said he was reluctantto offer financial assistancebecause of past failed res-taurants on the southside, including Val-entines and the longdefunct Waterfall.“I hope he makesit, but I’m not infavor of providingTIF assistance for arestaurant becauseof the track record of others in that area,”he said. “Plus, therewere too many dif-ferent proposals forthis project. But givehim a star for tenac-ity.”Poole said hedoubted the viabilityof Bush’s plan.“He wants to makeit a destination place, and tome it’s just another bar com-ing into town,” he said.“I don’t feel the villageneeds to be giving TIF mon-ey to a bar. Also, we’re pay-ing like $40,000 to help sur-charge the lot, and my feelingis the lot is not the village’sproblem. I would like tosee how much the bank hasdropped its price on the lotbecause the lot is unbuild-able.”He was also critical of Bush changing his build-ing plan frequently over thecourse of one year.“Each time he comes tothe board, his project haschanged,” he said.“I just hope that once hedoes build the project, thatit’s there longer than the lasttwo restaurants were in thatarea and we don’t have anempty building sitting therein a year.”While Poole sees Bush’sflexibility and willingness toalter plans as causes for con-cern, others, like Staton, haveviewed those traits as posi-tives.“I think Jamie deservesa lot of credit for never giv-ing up on the project,” Graczsaid. “And also the Chamberof Commerce and Brett (Fra-zier) have helped a lot.”
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