City, developer to continue discussions on 54th and Broadway development after aldermen table issue for three weeks

Adam Booth 06242024

Adam Booth speaks to the Quincy City Council during Monday night's meeting at the Quincy Regional Training Center. | David Adam

QUINCY — A proposal from an Omaha, Neb.-based developer to place four restaurants and a gas station/convenience store on a nearly eight-acre lot on the northeast corner of 54th and Broadway must wait three weeks before the Quincy City Council will consider voting on it.

However, it’s anybody’s guess how that proposal will change before it is added to the July 15 agenda.

Jim Otis with the Otis Company has said two of the restaurants in his $10.8 million project would be fast-food franchises. The other two would be sit-down dining establishments. He would ensure that none of the restaurants already are operating within a 20-mile radius of the location. 

Otis wants to receive a $1 million sales tax rebate. The city’s current proposal calls for splitting the sales tax revenue 50-50 for the first 10 years or until Otis receives $1 million.

Three local developers spoke against the sales tax rebate during the June 17 City Council meeting, and aldermen voted to table the resolution for one week. Quincy Mayor Mike Troup said after Monday night’s meeting at the Quincy Regional Training Center that city officials met internally last week to discuss the questions that were raised.

“We called Jim Otis (the next day) to explain what happened the night before,” Troup said. “He wanted to think about some things. We threw out some other ideas. We reconnected with him Thursday, and the good thing is he’s still interested — which is a relief.”

Troup said Otis wants to meet with aldermen, but his schedule won’t allow him to return to Quincy until after the July 4 holiday.

“He’s probably going to have two trips — one to come in and schedule meetings with two aldermen (at a time) over a couple of days so he can hear them firsthand,” Troup said. “Then after those meetings, we will meet again to say, ‘OK, what do you want us to do? Do you want us to amend the proposal? You want us to kill it?’

“I would hope that sometime around July 15, we will know if we are going to amend this resolution. We’re just trying to work through all of these steps to come up with something that can make sense for Quincy and can make sense for the developer.”

Local developer Adam Booth said during the public comment portion of the meeting that if new development would grow population and sales tax revenue, he believed he would be having a different conversation with aldermen. Adding restaurants and gas stations, Booth said, should not be a reason to give away tax incentives.

“We all love Target being here. We’ve had eight months of (that),” Booth said. “And if you look at eight months of sales taxes before Target got here, we’re up five percent. That seems pretty good. But what restaurant, gas station or grocery store hasn’t (raised prices) more than five or 10 percent in cost in that same time period? While Target is a good thing, I don’t think we’re seeing the true net gain of a Target being here. Clearly, you’re just rearranging dollars.”

Troup responded to Booth by saying all retailers have seen an increase since Target’s arrival because new shoppers are coming into town to spend the money.

“I would disagree,” Booth said. “I’ve got retail establishments, and we’ve raised all prices five to 10 percent in the last 12 months. So that’s why you’re up in collections. Do we get some new shoppers from Target? Absolutely. How much? Is it a million dollars worth? I don’t know. … Until we know where that impact is, we need to hold up on the incentives.”

Mike Shull speaks during Monday night’s Quincy City Council meeting. | David Adam

Mike Shull said he believes the issue to be addressed is not about how to get Quincy to grow but how to keep it from shrinking further. He listed 17 businesses that have closed in the past year.

“When my house gets messy or things break, I don’t add on an addition,” he said. “I clean and fix what I already have. This happens over and over again. In this town with these money asks — and what I consider to be the illusion of progress — you build a nice new shiny addition, and everybody just forgets about the part that’s falling apart. What’s more, when everybody sees me working hard on this new thing, they believe that I’m actually making progress when in actuality I’m not.

“I think we’ve fallen into this narrative that ‘new’ is the only way to show that you care. It’s like political wokeness. It alleges that one must be in favor of every new ask, lest they be perceived as hating Quincy or not caring about Quincy or wanting Quincy to fail. It’s all rhetorical. … We can have an amazing town right now without adding new people or new businesses. I say let’s focus on the businesses that we already have here. Let’s focus on the people who we already have here.”

Alderman Mike Rein (R-5) quickly made a motion to table the resolution for three weeks during the meeting. It was unanimously approved with no additional discussion.

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