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Plans for Woodman's grocery store in Lakemoor move forward

LAKEMOOR – Plans for a Woodman’s Food Market at the intersection of Routes 120 and 12 are moving forward, Lakemoor Mayor Todd Weihofen said.

This will be the largest development to come to Lakemoor, Weihofen said. The grocery store is expected to create an estimated 250 jobs, and there is room on the 74-acre site for another big-box store and several other retailers, he said.

The development process for the land was previously put on hold, after a lawsuit filed by Wauconda taxing bodies over a tax increment financing district on the site. However, in mid-November Weihofen said Woodman’s board of directors approved the purchase of the land.

“We’re excited,” Weihofen said. “Woodman’s is an employee-owned business – you couldn’t ask for a better business in town.”

An economic incentive agreement with Woodman’s is expected to come before the board in December, and the development agreement should be finalized soon after, Weihofen said.

“There’s a lot of things that need to happen before it’s final,” Woodman’s Vice President Clint Woodman said of the development. “We hope that everything goes smoothly.”

The tentative plans for Woodman’s include a 240,000-square-foot grocery store along with a freestanding gas station, convenience store and car wash. Officials supporting the project said it would allow area residents to shop closer to home rather than going to Fox Lake, Wauconda or McHenry.

If everything goes as planned, construction could start by 2019, Woodman said.

A development wouldn’t have come to the long-vacant property without the creation of the TIF district, village officials have said.

According to previous Northwest Herald reporting, the TIF district was expected to increase the equalized assessed value of the area from $20,000 to about $13 million over the 23-year life-span of the TIF. Village officials contend the property has flooding issues that would take nearly $10 million to fix.

“We took the time and put the tools in there to make it a development that would work,” Weihofen said.

In a letter posted online, the suing taxing bodies argue that the fact the land has been continuously farmed proves it is not subject to chronic flooding.

Dean Krone, attorney representing the Wauconda taxing bodies, said in an email he anticipates parties will begin taking depositions at the start of 2017. Krone said he is expecting a “significant number” of additional documents from the village in the near future.

In March, Weihofen encouraged residents to lobby the tax bodies behind the lawsuit. He said he never thought the lawsuit would hold the store back from coming to Lakemoor.

“It most likely won’t be settled until the grand opening.” Weihofen said.

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