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Joliet ready to change MyGrain lease at Union Station

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 10:40 p.m. CDT
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(Bob Okon - bokon@shawmedia.com)
Developers of the MyGrain Brewing Co. continue to work on their Union Station space. The city council votes Tuesday on lease changes to account for renovation costs now estimated as high as $840,000.

JOLIET – The City Council on Tuesday will vote on changes in a future brewpub’s lease at Union Station to cover up to $440,000 in additional costs for the project.

MyGrain Brewing Company and Brewpub is trying to open this summer but is running into additional costs renovating an inside section of the station for the business.

The lease changes will account for a $400,000 heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system with some extra cushion for unforeseen costs.

The entrepreneurs are getting rent credits, which amount to essentially free rent in compensation for their costs in renovating the space. According to the changes in the lease, MyGrain would pay no rent for 10 years if it spends the full $840,000 in available rent credits on renovations.

City Manager Jim Hock jested that sometimes it seems that every other one of his Friday reports to the council informs them of some unforeseen repairs needed for the project.

“We’ve had to replace a steel girder, a stanchion holding up the second floor. The list goes on,” Hock said to the council at a workshop meeting on Monday.

City officials, however, look forward to the brewpub, hoping it will be part of a rebirth of activity at Union Station, which opened in 1912 but ceased to be used as a train station in September 2014.

“Thank you guys for sticking with it,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said to the MyGrain business partners at the meeting. “It’s an old, old building that has a lot of problems.”

MyGrain partner Grzegorz Lesiak told the council that he still is aiming at a July opening and said the city has been very helpful.

“There’s still a lot to do,” Lesiak said. “It all depends on you. If we have the support, we’re still looking at July.”

Lesiak later told The Herald-News that he does not want to set an opening date because of the challenges in renovating the space.

“It all depends on how things go. It’s hard to predict a date,” he said.

The city owns Union Station. Rent credits are aimed at compensating MyGrain for costs the city as landlord would have had to pay if it did renovations itself.

Allowing MyGrain to install the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is seen as a way of saving time on the project rather than going through the usual public bidding process required for expenditure of governments funds.

La Mex beer garden

The council also will vote Tuesday on a license allowing the La Mex Restaurant at 3157 W. Jefferson St. to have an outdoor beer garden until midnight.

Deputy Liquor Commissioner Richard Goepper said La Mex would be barred from having outdoor entertainment or amplified electronic music in the beer garden.

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