Mom & Pop's Kettle Korn Stop to get new facade

PAXTON — Officials hope that a redevelopment agreement approved by the city council last month to help finance the renovation of a downtown kettle corn shop can be used as a template for similar projects in the future.

Like other redevelopment agreements previously approved for properties located within the city’s tax-increment financing (TIF) district, the one with Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn Stop calls for the city to reimburse the property’s owners for improvements made to the property.

But unlike others, this redevelopment agreement would make such reimbursements to a local bank, not the property owners directly.

The city’s TIF attorney, Dan Schuering of Springfield, said that Alan and Marcia Meyer, the owners of the kettle corn shop at 119 S. Market St., have estimated the total project to cost about $82,500, which includes costs associated with the acquisition of the property as well as about $31,500 in costs to redo the building’s facade.

Under the redevelopment agreement, the city will reimburse the Meyers a total of $23,700 over the remaining life of the TIF district, with the reimbursements being made annually using tax increment generated by the property improvements made, Schuering said.

The reimbursements would go directly to a Paxton bank, however, assuming the Meyers end up securing a loan from the bank to finance the project, Schuering said.
It would be the first time the city makes TIF reimbursements directly to a bank instead of a property owner under one of its redevelopment agreements. Schuering said he hopes other downtown businesses follow suit, helping give a new look to the business district that is consistent with a downtown streetscape plan completed last year by architects and engineers for the Farnsworth Group in Champaign.

“We want to try and use this as a model for the other downtown property owners,” Schuering said. “We can do this on every building downtown once we get the model worked out. ... We need to get building owners in downtown to buy in to the concept and plan renovations that are consistent with the (streetscape) plan.

“This is an important project for the downtown in two respects: (1) it shows the continuity, all the way through, of the entire process; and (2) we’ve now got the participation of a local financial institution, which demonstrates their confidence in the downtown.”

The Meyers used the Farnsworth Group to help create conceptual drawings of a new storefront for Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn Stop. The cost to do that was about $3,500, Alan Meyer said.

The drawings show what the store could look like — both inside and outside — once renovated. The drawings show new lighting, awnings and signage, among other changes — all consistent with the historic look the city hopes to create through its downtown streetscape plan.

“We’re looking at window replacement, as well, because the windows are old,” Alan Meyer said. “They fog up, and they’re hot during the day during the summer.”

Alan Meyer said he plans to get started on the improvements to the building in early 2018. Under the redevelopment agreement, the targeted completion date for the project is April 30, 2018.

Mom & Pop’s Kettle Korn Stop opened at 119 S. Market St. in November 2016. Since then, the business — and its popular homemade kettle corn recipes — has gained quite the reputation in the area, with most of its business coming from people who do not live in Paxton.

“Our sales have really exceeded what we thought,” Alan Meyer said. “We ship; we do weddings; we do two or three a month.

“Downtown is starting to really get busy. It’s surprising to me on a Friday or Saturday night how much business a little small-town popcorn shop is bringing into this community. A lot of our clients are coming from Chicago, Champaign — and we get a lot from Hoopeston.

“We want to keep it going. ... Our hope and dream is that it gets bigger and bigger. We’ve had people come into our store wanting our product on their store shelves. And my hope is that, at some point, we have stores such as Meijer that want our product.”

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