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Hamburger Mary's Seeks Tax Incentive to Rehab Historic Oak Park Building

Hamburger Mary's seeks Cook County incentive, a 12-year reduction of property tax assessment values, to rehab former Playhouse Theater building in Oak Park.

Oak Park Village Board members Monday agreed to support a 12-year tax break that would help Hamburger Mary's rehabilitate the historic Playhouse Theater building at 1111-1113 South Blvd. in Oak Park's Pleasant District.

Hamburger Mary's, set to open this summer, needed municipal support to ask for a Cook County Class L incentive for the rehabilitation of the building, which allows for a 12-year reduction of property tax assessment levels for owners who rehabilitate landmark commercial buildings, according to a village staff memo.

The incentive, according to the memo, is granted to property owners who invest at least half the value of the building in an approved rehab project. A preliminary estimate for the Hamburger Mary's rehabilitation project is about $1.2 million, about 14 times the required minimum required of $82,860 for the building assessed at $165,719, according to the memo. 

With the incentive, the property would be assessed at 16 percent of fair market value for the first 10 years, 23 percent in year 11 and 30 percent in year 12, according to the memo. 

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The proposed rehabilitation of the building, which has been used for office space since 1968, includes removal of all non-original interior offices, installation of a kitchen, restaurant and brewing equipment, a cabaret bar with a stage, updates to the bathrooms, exterior masonry work, upgraded utilities and removal and reinstallation of one exterior door. The property owners will also look into restoring the building's retractable skylight, according to the memo. 

The theater was constructed in 1913 by Harper & Butendorff and converted into a film studio and lab in 1920. 

Hamburger Mary's owner Ashley Wright, who opened the Andersonville restaurant in 2006 as a franchisee before buying the franchise system in 2007, said in November the Oak Park location would incorporate the traditional Hamburger Mary's concept, but would focus more on the brewing aspect of the business. 

Hamburger Mary's started brewing its own beer in Andersonville in 2009, he said.

The board also approved a brewpub license for the business, which is contingent upon the company's legal interest in the property. 

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Richard Biegaj January 14, 2014 at 08:59 AM
What ever happened to the idea of businesses paying to build or rehab properties on their own dime? Why do the taxpayers seem to always get handed the bill?
Ted Lo January 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM
Richard, I am the last person to support government funding of businesses but owners aren't being given a dime of money. This just reduces future tax obligations. This is no different than the assessor reducing your property assessment. HM plans to spend 1.2 million in an area that can use the investment. No checks will be cut, no taxes need to be raised. This will increase tax income in the form of sales tax.

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