Opening up new possibilities at Oxbow Landing

2013-07-10T02:00:00Z Opening up new possibilities at Oxbow LandingLu Ann Franklin nwitimes.com
July 10, 2013 2:00 am  • 

Creating “destinations” that attract loyal patrons and newcomers alike is a vital part of any economic development effort. In mid-June, Hammond officials penned a deal to bring a popular restaurant and brewery to Oxbow Landing along Kennedy Avenue at Interstate 80-94.

The parent company of Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery plans to build a 28,000 square-foot restaurant and production brewery on the southeast corner of the land. Redevelopment of this highly visible location began when the crime-ridden River Park Apartments were demolished.

What worked in Flossmoor, Ill. to revitalize the downtown is expected to breathe new life into a promising prime piece of real estate in Hammond.

Dean and Carolyn Armstrong opened Flossmoor Station in 1996 inside the former Flossmoor Train station. The brewpub helped transform the village’s downtown from what Dean Armstrong calls “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,” he says. “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 new Hammond Station Restaurant and Brewery at Oxbow Landing will be a larger facility than the Flossmoor original and will employ at least 100 people, Dean Armstrong says.

The Hammond Redevelopment Commission recently penned the deal to provide the Armstrongs with $3.5 million in incentives from the city to support the approximately $10 million project. If Hammond Station stays open and in operation at the Oxbow Landing site for five years, the city will forgive land costs, according to Phil Tailion, executive director of the city’s Department of Planning and Development.

Those incentives will be paid out over the course of the project if certain requirements are met, says Tailion. The incentives used to draw in economic development will be funded through tax increment financing. They will roughly equal the cost of infrastructure improvements Hammond Station will require at this site, he says.

Flossmoor’s owners initially bid $996,996 for 7 acres in the approximately 18-acre site.

The Hammond City Council is expected to consider and approve this Hammond Station and Brewpub development agreement at its July 8 meeting.

Hammond City Council President Michael Opinker says the brewpub will be a new amenity to the 5th District, which he represents.

Construction of Hammond Station should begin in September. The brewpub could open in the spring of 2014. The Hammond Station brewpub will offer barrel-aged beers. Diners will be able to watch the brewing equipment from inside the restaurant.

Hammond officials expect the restaurant and production brewery to be an anchor for the development of Oxbow Landing.

In addition to the brewpub, Hammond officials have also received bids for this site from a medical veterinary specialty facility and from a commercial concept similar to Mars Cheese Castle, a Wisconsin-based retailer of cheeses and meats. Air Adventure has also shown interest in Oxbow Landing and proposes a family entertainment facility.

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

“When you are located next to one of the busiest traveled highways in the county, you have the potential to be one of the busiest retail developments, he says.

Opinker agrees.

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

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