Hammond commission approves deal for brewpub at Oxbow Landing

2013-06-18T20:30:00Z 2013-06-19T17:55:05Z Hammond commission approves deal for brewpub at Oxbow LandingChelsea Schneider Kirk and Anna Ortiz Times Staff Writers nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | The city has secured a deal with the owners of a popular Illinois restaurant and brewery to build a second location at Interstate 80/94 and Kennedy Avenue.

The parent company of Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery will build a 28,000-square-foot restaurant and production brewery at Hammond's Oxbow Landing development under an agreement approved Tuesday by the Hammond Redevelopment Commission.

The new brewpub, which will be named Hammond Station Restaurant and Brewery, is the first step in the commercial development of Oxbow Landing, which was once home to a crime-ridden apartment complex at the southeast corner of I-80/94 and Kennedy Avenue. City officials see Hammond Station as the anchor for the development.

The Hammond location is a much larger concept from the brewpub in downtown Flossmoor, Ill., and will employ at minimum 100 people, said Flossmoor Station co-owner Dean Armstrong. Armstrong and his wife, Carolyn Armstrong, opened Flossmoor Station in 1996 inside the former Flossmoor Train Station. Armstrong said the brewpub helped transform downtown Flossmoor from a “ghost town” into a bustling area.

“Flossmoor Station has become a tourist attraction, we have people come not only from the United States but throughout the world as well,” Armstrong said. “People plan vacations around touring certain brewpubs in various parts of the country, so we believe the (Hammond Station) will be a tourist attraction as well."

The agreement provides the developer $3.5 million in incentives from the city to support the approximate $10 million project. The city will forgive land costs if Hammond Station stays open and in operation at the site for five years, said Phil Taillon, executive director of the city's Department of Planning and Development. Flossmoor's owners initially bid $996,996 for 7 acres of the approximate 18-acre site.

Taillon said the city will now take a closer look at other tenants interested in coming to Oxbow Landing.

“When you are located next to one of the busiest traveled highways in the country, you have the potential to be one of the busiest retail developments,” Taillon said.

Along with the brewpub, Hammond also received bids for a medical veterinary specialty facility and a commercial concept similar to Mars Cheese Castle, a Wisconsin-based retailer of cheeses and meats, for the site. Air Adventure, a proposed family entertainment facility, also has shown interest in coming to Oxbow Landing.

Construction on Hammond Station should begin by September with the brewpub potentially open by the spring. The brewpub will feature barrel-aged beers, and diners will be able to view the brewing equipment from inside the restaurant.

Incentives will be paid out over the course of the project if certain requirements are met. The incentives will be funded through tax increment financing and roughly equal the cost of infrastructure improvements Hammond Station will require at the site, Taillon said.

The project now goes to the Hammond City Council for approval. Council members likely will consider the development agreement at their July 8 meeting.

Hammond City Council President Michael Opinker, who represents the area where Hammond Station will locate, said the brewpub will bring a new amenity to the 5th District.

“It will not only bring some atmosphere to the residents of the city,” Opinker said, “but once other businesses see what this operation does, it's going to pull other businesses in automatically.”

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