Despite the Village of Oak Park approving an agreement to split sales tax revenue, Dom’s Kitchen & Market will not be moving forward with its plans to open an Oak Park location in the historic Marshall Field and Company building on Lake Street.
The upscale, grocery-restaurant hybrid decided to back out of lease negotiations after “completing detailed space plans” that determined the two-story space was ill-suited for the Dom’s concept, according to a Sept. 30 news release from the Village of Oak Park.
The announcement comes mere weeks after the village board approved a 20-year sales tax sharing agreement with Dom’s. The business would have received 50% of tax revenue generated from its alcohol, grocery and retail sales. Dom’s was expected to bring in $350,000 in total annual sales taxes.
The sales tax agreement was supposed to serve as an incentive for Dom’s to occupy the beautiful but long vacant ground level and lower level portions of the building. Lease negotiations were contingent upon the village approving the agreement. By not entering into a lease, Dom’s has nullified the agreement.
The withdrawal is a disappointing loss for both the village and the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, which recommended the sales tax agreement to the village board and had been working with Dom’s leadership to bring the market to Oak Park. John Lynch, the development group’s executive director, previously called Dom’s “a unicorn tenant.”
“Of course, we’re disappointed,” Lynch told Wednesday Journal. “We certainly knew there were issues to be resolved before Dom’s signed their lease, but I’d be lying if I said I thought the overall space would be one of those issues.”
Dom’s, Lynch said, was unable to start space planning until an economic agreement was reached with the Village of Oak Park. He said he is proud that such a deal was able to be secured even though it will not come to fruition and that Dom’s leadership found Oak Park a worthwhile community to invest in.
“The issue with this space had nothing to do with Oak Park; the tenant was very high on Oak Park,” Lynch said.
The first two floors of the Marshall Field’s building, which Dom’s was set to occupy, have been in need of a long-term tenant for over a decade. Borders bookstore, the space’s most recent tenant, closed in 2011.
Over the years, the village has approved several special use applications for other interested tenants. As with Dom’s, those plans ultimately fell through due to, according to the village news release, circumstances not attributable to the village. OPEDC is continuing to work with the property owner to find a new tenant.
“We’ve been working with the owner for years. That isn’t going to change,” Lynch said.
While the desired outcome did not pan out, the experience with Dom’s is not without its positives for the OPEDC. Lynch believes that the Village of Oak Park has demonstrated to the retail market that it’s a top tier suburban location for enterprises ready to expand out of Chicago.
“This partnership really demonstrated that the village, the property owner and the tenant can and will work together to bring the right concept to this space.”