World-famous Hofbrauhaus part of development plan at National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows

By DENNIS GRUBAUGH, of the Illinois Business Journal

BELLEVILLE — A Hofbrauhaus restaurant, a descendant of a centuries-old German tradition, is the centerpiece of a $50 million development eyed on newly annexed, vacant property owned by the missionaries who run the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, developers said today

The 33-acre site is on a 177-acre tract that the Shrine owns, just across Illinois Route 15 from the main entrance to the Shrine, where the enormously popular Way of Lights Christmas display attracts thousands of drivers each year.

The Hofbrauhaus is part of a first phase that envisions a 30,000-square-foot convention center, two hotels and a total of five restaurants. If successful, the various parties would pursue developing even more of the remaining acreage, they said.

The Bavarian-style restaurant, begun in Munich more than 400 years ago, has become popular around the world, but this would be only the seventh location in United States, one of the developers, Chane Keller, said.

Keller is a member of a large family of developers based in Effingham who have substantial hotel developments around the country.

In this venture the Kellers will be equity partners with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who run the Shrine.

The project is dependent on getting a special service area tax, an enterprise zone and Tax Increment Finance District in place, Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said. All of those things will depend on state approval. The money will help subsidize the developers’ cost. The City Council will be meeting to address its role in the projects in upcoming weeks.

A business district tax and a hotel-motel tax will be generated for Belleville, said Forrest Langenfeld, a former banker who is working on the financing plan for the developers.

The city must also build the necessary sewer lines to serve the site, but such extension would also serve any other properties that build in the future, the mayor said.

The Shrine will be able to use hotel rooms in the new development to accommodate the many groups that meet each year at the Shrine.

The Oblates are entering into a 50-year lease of the property to the developers with the option for two, 25-year lease extensions.
The Oblates will benefit from any subleases to future businesses, they said. New money will assist the charitable work of the Oblates, rather than have to be applied to maintenance of the sprawling Shrine complex.

MORE ON THIS STORY will appear later on this page and in print editions of the Illinois Business Journal.

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