Rezoning, final plat for hotel, restaurant approved

PAXTON — The Paxton Planning Commission voted unanimously last week to recommend the city council approve the rezoning of undeveloped land on the city’s west side to make way for a proposed hotel and restaurant there.

Also, the commission voted 5-0 to recommend the council OK a final plat for the planned development. Three commissioners were absent.

The roughly 3-acre plot where the hotel and restaurant would be located is part of 33 acres of property owned by Steve and Gary Glazik, according to Mayor Bill Ingold. The development will be referred to as “Paxton Commercial Park,” Ingold said.

“Out of the 33 acres, they have two lots right now that they want to bring before the commission for the hotel and maybe a future restaurant,” Ingold said. “As for the rest of the property, they will work that out. We do have a couple of businesses that have expressed some interest — not a lot, but some minor interest — in a couple of the other properties, but that will be for when the time comes.”

The Glaziks and a group of other local investors plan to build a 41-room Cobblestone Hotel & Suites on 2 of the 3 acres that are included in the final plat. The other acre is eyed for the development of a Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken restaurant.

According to the plat, the hotel and restaurant would be located between the gas station and U.S. Department of Agriculture building on West Ottawa Road, just west of Interstate 57.

Ingold said he expects the hotel portion of the development to be completed within five or six months.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve both the final plat and the rezoning of the land — from its existing manufacturing zoning (M1/M2) to business zoning (B3). The land was annexed into city limits prior to the city implementing a tax-increment financing (TIF) district around the Interstate 57 interchange.

Local attorney Jerry Niemann, representing the Glaziks, told the commission that with future development in mind, the Glaziks contemplated expanding the final plat to include plans for other construction projects, not just the hotel and restaurant. But the Glaziks ultimately decided to keep the initial development small, leaving options open for the rest.

“A considerable amount of time went into making the decision — do we do a 2-acre subdivision, or do we do a two-lot subdivision, or do we do a 15-lot subdivision?” Niemann said. “But depending on what comes in in the back (of the property) and how much room they need, the decision was made to go with what we have.

“But we hope to be back soon before the planning commission (to petition for final plats for other developments on the 33 acres). It may be two or three times we’re back, or it maybe one more time, just depending on the size of whatever the next project is.”

Ingold said he, too, expects it to be not too long before more projects are ready to be put before the commission.

“We’ve got two or three other things that we’re eying for this thing out here,” Ingold said before adding, “We will be back.”

Niemann said the land that will not be immediately developed will continue to be farmed until any construction gets under way there.

Eventually, Niemann said, “there will probably have to be some retention basins put in at some later date (to alleviate any flooding concerns). We may have to put in a little one now and maybe a bigger one in for this at a later date. We’re just trying not to over-engineer at this point and time.”

Niemann said the development’s engineering has been done by the Farnsworth Group, the same Bloomington firm used by the city. 

A groundbreaking ceremony for the proposed two-story hotel at 1280 W. Ottawa Road was held in November following the planning commission and city council’s approval of a preliminary plat for the hotel/restaurant project. The hotel is expected to feature an indoor swimming pool and 50-seat conference room.

In September, Paxton aldermen signed off on a redevelopment agreement with Paxton Hotel Group LLC, a company owned by the Glaziks, authorizing the city to reimburse the company up to $925,000 of the $4 million in estimated costs necessary to build the hotel. The reimbursement would be made using some of the real estate tax revenue generated over the next 20 years through the improvements made to the land, which is located in the city’s TIF district.

According to Ingold, Paxton’s hotel would become the 84th hotel operated by Cobblestone Hotels, a company based in Neenah, Wis., that calls itself “a leading upper-midscale hotel brand.” Cobblestone Hotels — with the slogan “Big City Quality ... Small-Town Values” — already has two hotels in Illinois, in Altamont and Newton. It only builds its hotels in towns with a population of 5,000 or fewer, Ingold said.

Present for last Thursday’s planning commission meeting were its chairman, Don Jones, and commissioners Steve Klein, Deane Geiken, Bryan Breymeyer and Tom Plackett. Absent were Nancy Dewey, Randy Smith and Charlie White.

Attendance has been an issue in recent months at meetings of both the planning commission and Paxton zoning board of appeals, Ingold said. Due to troubles of getting members to come to the meetings, Ingold said the city council would be discussing a proposal to reduce the number of members of each panel from seven to five. Ingold said he hoped doing so would make it easier to secure the necessary quorum at their meetings.

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