Tollefson Shares Plans for Revamping Downtown
Rick Tollefson, of Imperial Investments, wants to use Cobblestone Bakery & Bistro as a template for other downtown projects.
Developer Rick Tollefson and his crew spun about three dozen different concepts before settling on three for the west side of Route 47 in Yorkville's downtown.
"I hope what we build here is something people will be proud of," Tollefson said at a Tuesday morning meeting with local press.
Tollefson, who also is president of sportsware manufacturer Boombah, plans to expand Cobblestone Bakery & Bistro to allow for more large-group seating and more bakery sales space. That would add 80 to 100 seats to the 40 interior seats and 20 exterior seats Cobblestone presently offers.
Tollefson also plans to revamp The Follies Theatre into a performance area managed by musician Jon Conover and add a BD's Mongolian Barbeque-style restaurant next door. The Follies Theatre will not continue leasing that space after the end of this month, although Tollefson said the group could occasionally perform there in the future.
The Kendall Pub, which Tollefson's company bought about six weeks ago, will become Kendall Grille. The back area of the pub building, which had housed bands and bags players, will have more seating and family-friendly entertainment, such as televisions, Tollefson said. The back area will open to an outdoor seating area near the city's pumphouse.
A Change in Style
Tollefson said he wants Kendall Grille to have an atmosphere welcoming for families, casual diners and teenagers who want a bite to eat after a basketball game or other school function.
"It's not a place to come and get drunk and party," Tollefson said.
The former Bridge Street Cafe and real estate office will become Mongolian 211. That kitchen will serve both Mongolian 211 and Kendall Grille, while the pub's kitchen will be removed, Tollefson said. Mongolian 211 will seat about 80, while the expanded Kendall Grille will seat about 150, Tollefson said.
A brick facade will run across the entire west side of the buildings, so patrons can enter from what is now the back side of the buildings as construction begins along Route 47. Tollefson hopes ComEd will move the utility wires there underground.
No Immediate Changes in Developer Incentives
Tollefson discussed the plans publicly just a few weeks after purchasing the last two lots he needed to own the entire block on the west side of Route 47 from Van Emmon Road to Hydraulic Avenue.
The city still owns the parking lot behind the buildings, and parking remains a concern for Tollefson. The gravel lot that Tollefson's company owns on the corner of Route 47 and Hydraulic Avenue has about 35 spaces, Tollefson said.
The properties are located within the city's downtown tax increment financing district.
Imperial Investments will receive a portion of the new property taxes created by three projects - Cobblestone Bakery & Bistro, The Follies Theatre building and apartments at 202 E. Van Emmon Road, 210 E. Van Emmon Road, 306 Heustis St. and 308 Heustis St. Under the agreement, approved in April, Imperial Investments will put $2 million into those projects, and receive up to a quarter of that back as property tax revenue associated with those projects trickles into the TIF fund.
Tollefson has abandoned a more recent proposal to provide Imperial Investments a development incentive by adding a 0.5 percent sales tax to purchases made in the company's downtown businesses.
The changes should create a handful of jobs, too. Carol Nachreiner recently was hired to handle the restaurants' business operations, while executive chef Rachel Conover will focus on menu selections and similar duties. Cobblestone Bakery & Bistro has about 15 employees, and Tollefson expects Mongolian 211 will have 10 to 15 employees.
The Bigger Picture
By the time he finishes those projects, Tollefson and his lenders will have poured $7 million to $8 million into Yorkville's downtown since purchasing the former Sugar Shack Bakery in June 2011, he said. He hopes to have them completed by the end of the year, if not sooner.
"I would love to say Thanksgiving for all of it," Tollefson said. "Certainly by the end of the year."
Tollefson expects Yorkville's downtown ultimately will have more retail space to complement the restaurants, the pedestrian bridge over the Fox River and the Marge Cline Whitewater Course.
"Obviously, this is just one part of a whole downtown plan I have in my mind," Tollefson said.
Tollefson, a Yorkville native, said he wants the city's downtown to be the envy of its neighbors.
"I'm thrilled to be here; that's the reality," he said. "I'm a Yorkville guy."
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• Photos: Visual Tour of Yorkville's Downtown Construction Plans
• Cobblestone More than a Bakery
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