By Igor Studenkov | Bugle Staff
The village of Morton Grove Board of Trustees will soon decide whether to give tax incentives to Moretti’s Ristorante & Pizzeria, which is looking to open a location at a long-vacant lot a few blocks from village’s Metra station.
The restaurant would be located on a village-owned lot within the Lehigh/Ferris tax increment financing district. Under the redevelopment agreement, the village would sell the land to Moretti’s. Once the restaurant opens, the portion of tax revenue it generates would be used to pay for the acquisition. The village board is expected to make a final vote on whether to approve the agreement during its next meeting, which is scheduled for Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.
Moretti’s is an Italian-American restaurant operated by Chicago-based Ala Carte Entertainment. It has locations in Bartlett, Fox Lake, Lake in the Hills, Mount Prospect, Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates and Chicago’s Edison Park neighborhood.
According to a village press release, the chain plans to open its Morton Grove location on the currently vacant lot at 6415 Dempster St., about three blocks north of the Metra station and within walking distance of village hall and the Morton Grove Public Library.
The lot belonged to Maxwell’s Restaurant, which closed in 2003. Since then, there were several efforts to redevelop the property, none of which panned out. The village purchased the land in 2014 for $1.4 million.
Moretti’s would take up approximately 10,000 square feet and accommodate about 350 patrons in three dining areas, a bar and an outdoor dining area.
“The restaurant will be a family-friendly, casual dining establishment with dine-in, delivery and carryout options, a video gaming component, as well as private event and catering services,” stated the press release.
In an official statement, Mark Hoffmann, vice president of Ala Carte Entertainment, said the deal has been in the works for a while.
“From the first time I saw this property, I thought it would be a great location for a Moretti’s,” he said. “After working with the [Morton Grove mayor Dan DiMaria] and his staff over the past few months on all the details of this deal, I am confident that this is not only the right site, but Morton Grove is the right community, for our newest Moretti’s development.”
DiMaria has long advocated development for the lot, which would become a “gateway” to another project – mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly developments around the Morton Grove Metra station. In the press release, the mayor described the deal as a “win-win” for Morton Grove.
“The public will get a highly desired restaurant facility,” said DiMaria. “The developer will receive necessary financial assistance, and the village will turn a site, which has been vacant for several years, into a new restaurant and catering business. This will generate increased sales and property taxes, as well as attract other restaurants and businesses to the area. “
With a few exceptions, the Village Board approved agreements in two readings. To speed up the process, the first reading was scheduled for a special Dec. 7 meeting. The second and final reading will take place during the regular, Dec. 14 meeting.