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Tinley Park considering tax break for one restaurant, balking at breaks for another

A view former Casto's locatiThursday Jan. 10 2013 16846 S. Oak Park Ave. Tinley Park. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

A view of the former Casto's location Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, at 16846 S. Oak Park Ave. in Tinley Park. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 12, 2013 2:13PM



It’s the tale of two restaurants in Tinley Park.

One that’s ready to fill a vacant Italian restaurant on Oak Park Avenue is getting tax breaks.

But tax breaks are far from a sure thing for another restaurant proposed by a national chain.

The village board this week gave initial approval to property tax breaks for manager Sapion Chung and chef Tammy Pham, who want to open Siam Marina, an Asian fusion restaurant, at 16846 S. Oak Park Ave., the former site of Casto’s, which closed in November 2011.

But the board wants to do more research before offering the same breaks, which would cut property taxes by 60 percent for 10 years, to Golden Corral, which wants to build an 11,000-square-foot restaurant on 159th Street west of Brown’s Chicken and in front of Menards.

Trustees have concerns about setting a precedent by offering tax breaks to a business on a busy street like 159th.

Those concerns aren’t shared for Siam Marina on Oak Park Avenue, which attracts more “mom-and-pop” businesses that can benefit more from tax breaks than national chains, Trustee Greg Hannon said.

For years, the village has offered tax breaks for businesses in the historic downtown district. Thirty-four other properties have received similar tax breaks, said Ivan Baker, the village’s economic development director.

Downtown “seems a logical place to ask for tax relief but (we) did not want to see this happen all over town. I’m not against Golden Corral. I just have some concerns,” Hannon said.

Chung and Pham did not return phone calls but have operated the original Siam Marina Restaurant in Calumet City since 1999. They also own Asparagus Restaurant in Merrillville.

On the web site for Siam Marina, a note is posted saying they are losing their lease and will close at the end of February in Calumet City, but it makes no mention of Tinley Park.

They would not be able to open a restaurant in Tinley Park without money saved in the tax break, Baker wrote in a memo to the board.

The break “changes the assessment of a commercial property to the level of a residential property,” he said.

“It’s only allowed in areas that have been approved by Cook County and one of those is Bremen Township,” Baker said.

Both sites are in Bremen Township, but trustees at the finance and economic development committee Tuesday night balked at the deal for Golden Corral.

Hannon noted that a nearby Burger King and a small strip mall at the southwest corner of 159th Street and Harlem Avenue both were built without tax breaks. Seaman, however, worried that if the Golden Corral deal fizzles, the village may be stuck with a business that generates less sales tax revenue.

“What’s the alternative development? Another Burger King? You’re going to get the small stuff, not something that’s 11,000 square feet, You’re not going to get something the size and scope of this building. It’s a national franchise. It’s accessible, and they have some real opportunity about generating some revenue,” Seaman said.

The village estimates $3.5 million to $4 million in annual sales for Golden Corral.

In a Dec. 3 email to the board, developer Bhavin Patel said Golden Corral would bring 100 jobs to town.

Tax breaks could save the company $138,000 annually, Hannon said.

“I don’t have a problem with being good to businesses. I have no problem with waiving building permit fees. I’d waive the whole fee of $28,000 if that helps them out. My only caution is we can’t say ‘no’ to somebody else” if the village gives Golden Corral the tax break, Hannon said.



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