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Members of Evanston’s Economic Development Committee voted 5-1 Wednesday night in favor of a plan to rebate $50,000 in sales and liquor tax revenue to the Kabul House restaurant under construction at 2424 Dempster St.

Committee member Hecky Powell, whose Hecky’s Barbecue received an $11,500 facade improvement grant from the city five years ago, cast the only vote against the plan.

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Kabul House owner Akmal Qazi has paid $540,000 to purchase the failed Chicken & Waffles restaurant site and is reportedly spending an additional $700,000 on renovations and new equipment.

After some of the project costs came in higher than initially estimated, he asked the EDC last month for assistance in the form of a facade improvement grant, but was turned down because the previous owners had received money from the same program.

Marty Lyons.

Asked by the committee to explore other ways the city might provide help, Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons Wednesday recommended the tax rebate idea.

Lyons said the assistance could be structured to condition the rebate on Kabul House achieving goals for hiring local residents.

But Powell said he doubted those promises would be kept.

“I’ve been around the city a long time. That’s always what people say — jobs, jobs, jobs — but they don’t happen,” he argued.

He also suggested the restaurant owner should have done a better job of planning the project so he wouldn’t have needed to seek extra funds.

The committee, without any dissent, approved loans to four other businesses.

Lenice Levy.

Lenice and Tony Levy, owners of the Good To Go Jamaican restaurant, were approved for $50,000 forgivable loan to help pay buildout costs for their newly-purchased location at 709-711 Howard St. and a 10-year, $25,000 Community Development Block Grant loan to pay for equipment.

Marianne Schwall.

Marianne and Richard Schwall of Lake City Cleaners were backed for a forgivable loan of up to $10,648 to cover half the cost of a backflow prevention device and water pressure booster pump in their building at 600 Oakton St.

Ramakant Kharel.

Ramakant Kharel, received backing for a forgivable loan of $10,700 for facade improvements at his planned Red Hot Chili Pepper restaurant at 500 Davis St.

And the owners of the Gross Point Plaza shopping center at 2504-2510 Gross Point Road were supported in their request for $16,500 to make facade improvements.

All the plans still require City Council approval.

The city’s Storefront Modernization Program, which is the funding source for all the proposals other than Kabul House, has an annual budget of $350,000 — out of a total city budget of $247 million.

Related story

EDC gets five requests for aid to businesses (2/22/17)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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10 Comments

    1. Yes in Deed, The “SWAMP” Must

      Yes in Deed, The “SWAMP” Must Be Drained!
      I Back Mr. Powell, What He States IS True.

    2. City Loans

      Well….they did it again!   Hecky is the only one with a brian, logic, and common sense.   And that is how it goes, in Evanston!

  1. Kabul House over expenses…..

    Thanks Hecky. The tax payers shouldn’t have to make up the owners short fall in paying his remodeling cost. Plan better….

  2. Kabul House

    My understanding the funds for economic development come from the Federal Goverment Evanston got to put it to good use, It may not be sound wise to continue helping another business that is trying to bring economic grow to a location that already failed but given the opportunity why not? on the other hand It would be wise for the city to establish some sort of oversight that this new business will hire our local worrkfoce but also will be fair to the business owner  and to the workforce being hired: the new business should provide jobs with competitive pay and benefits and the business owner should get a realiable workforce, dedicate and capable to do the job. Has the city conditioned this on the recent business that came to Evanston? the employees at some of the businesses that came to Evanston constantly change personnel why is this happening?

    1. Economic development funds …

      Of this batch of loans, only the CDBG loan to Good To Go is from federal money.

      The storefront improvement forgivable loans and the tax rebate deal with Kabul House all involve local tax money.

      There was considerable discussion during the meeting about how to provide better monitoring of performance on local hiring goals than happened with Chicken and Waffles.

      — Bill

  3. Dinner at Hecky’s

    Our family will be ordering a great dinner from Hecky’s in appreciation for his work on behalf of all taxpayers in Evanston and trying to instill some common sense into our government.

    I’d encourage others to also patronize Hecky’s :

    http://heckys.com/item.php?id=1&type=takeout

    (847) 492-1182

    Enjoy the tasty BBQ ;Pulled pork, Baby Back Ribs and Sweet Potato pie 

  4. Cheers for Hecky Powell

    Cheers for Hecky Powell.  He has long had Evanston’s citizen wellbeing in his sights.  Now watch the council give away the store.  Nobody merits forgiveable loans.  How about forgiveable property taxes for the rest of us?

  5. The Kabul House location is

    The Kabul House location is Skokie is soooo good. Looking forward to the Evanston location!

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