A brewery is coming to downtown Yorkville – Shaw Local
YORKVILLE — Ed Williams is optimistic about the future of Yorkville’s historic downtown business district.
The Yorkville developer is the patriarch of the Williams Group, which he operates with his wife, Karin, and son Mike.
“I see a lot of potential for making downtown Yorkville a destination,” Williams said, pointing to a plethora of restaurants, bars and shops in the downtown area.
The Williams Group owns numerous commercial and residential properties in Yorkville, Montgomery and Sugar Grove.
The development company’s latest project is the renovation of the two-story commercial structure at 101 S. Bridge St. (Route 47).
Located at the northwest corner of South Bridge and West Hydraulic Streets on the south bank of the Fox River, the former Investor Tools Building is best identified by the “Dickson 1954” tablet inscribed on the brick building facade .
The exterior of the building has been significantly upgraded since Williams purchased the structure earlier this year, sporting new bay windows, doors and exterior lighting and trim.
Also new to the exterior is a sign designating the building as “Riverside Plaza.”
There have been additions to the building over the years and one of them will be the headquarters of Fox Republic Brewing.
The seven- or possibly 10-barrel brewing operation will include indoor seating for around 100 beer-lovers, with an outdoor patio along the water-street facade of the building.
The 3,300 square foot space features a vaulted ceiling supported by a huge beam.
“When you look at this space and imagine what it can be, it has so many possibilities,” Williams said.
Normally, the Williams Group’s business model is to renovate building spaces and lease them to commercial tenants. However, for the Fox Republic project, Williams is one of five investors in the brewing company.
Williams is keeping the identity of the Fox Republic brewmaster, who currently works for another brewery, secret for the time being.
The opening target for the new brewery is summer 2023.
Meanwhile, Williams has already attracted two new companies to the building.
Iconic Coffee Shop, occupying a prominent first-floor location overlooking the intersection of Bridge and Hydraulic, recently opened.
Foxes Den Meadery, which will serve mead from a bar on the first floor, is expected to open soon. A balcony off the dining area offers views of the Fox River.
Yorkville owner Rico Bianchi has already started production in the building’s basement.
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey mixed with water and often with additional ingredients, including fruits or grains. The drink is often described as honey wine.
In addition to Iconic and Foxes Den, the building is the new home of Second Chance Cardiac Solutions, which has moved from another location. The company sells automated external defibrillators for people suffering from a heart attack.
On the second floor, Williams has created two one-bedroom residential apartments, fully furnished and marketed as short-term, month-to-month rentals for people in transition.
The building also houses Red’s Baseball Academy, an indoor practice facility with batting cages, weightlifting equipment, and an open area covered in artificial turf.
Mike Williams, a 2014 Yorkville High School graduate armed with a finance degree from the University of Illinois, shares his father’s passion for redevelopment of properties in his hometown.
“It’s what I dreamed of when I was a kid,” said Mike Williams.
Yorkville city officials, eager to see redevelopment projects and new businesses in the downtown area, worked with the Williams Group to provide incentives for the building’s restoration project and changes to Yorkville’s liquor code. the town to host the mead and brewery.
In the spring, Yorkville City Council established a new liquor license classification for micro wineries, which will allow mead to be made and consumed on-site.
Earlier this summer, aldermen changed the classification to remove the requirement for breweries and micro wineries to sell food.
When complete, The Williams Group will have invested over $2 million in the construction project, including property acquisition and extensive renovations.
For the Fox Republic Brewery space renovations, the developer will spend $270,000, excluding the cost of brewing equipment.
On Sept. 13, city council approved a deal that will reimburse the developer for up to 25% of that cost, or $67,000 in district funds to fund the tax increases.
That’s in addition to up to $400,000 in TIF funds for the first phase of the project, but that will be contingent on the city extending the life of the downtown TIF district, which is set to expire in 2029.
A TIF neighborhood is a mechanism commonly used by municipalities to encourage redevelopment in underused or degraded areas.
Property tax payments to local government units are frozen, with the increased value, known as the increment, being placed in a fund for public incentives and improvements. Under state statute, TIF districts have a lifespan of 23 years, but can be extended.
The city also waived some building permit fees for the project.
In exchange, the agreement asks The Williams Group to grant property easements to the city.
One of the easements would run along the south bank of the Fox River from the bridge west to a point near the old post office, now occupied by the parks and recreation department of Yorkville. The city hopes to sell this building for redevelopment.
The city already owns and operates Riverfront Park on the south bank of the river just east of the bridge.
Ed Williams said he would like to see the creation of a walkway under the bridge, allowing pedestrians to move safely between Riverfront Park and the new linear walkway that city officials are considering.
The other easement is for the northwest corner of West Hydraulic and South Bridge streets on a grassed area adjacent to the building.
The highly visible location is where the city has had its eye for the installation of a sculpture or other art form.
The building has a 54-space parking lot accessible from Hydraulic Street.
Williams owns additional undeveloped property behind the Dhuse Chiropractic building, as well as the parking lot immediately east of the old post office building at 201 W. Hydraulic St.