By Howard Packowitz
BLOOMINGTON – The Bloomington City Council is guaranteeing a company will get a video gaming license as an incentive for opening a pizza restaurant on land that’s been vacant for many years.
The council on a 7-1 vote approved a development agreement and liquor license for Lu Lu’s Pizza at the northeast corner of Washington and Clinton streets, which used to be Mr. Quick. The drive-in restaurant was demolished almost 18 years ago, and all that’s there now is a large billboard.
The owners of Speed Lube nearby bought the property in 2016, but the council’s moratorium on granting new video gaming licenses put their plans on hold. Just three months ago, the council lifted that moratorium, but capped the number of establishments able to hold gambling licenses at 60.
Donna Boelen was the only council member voting no because she believes government should not give a business special treatment.
“So instead of capping at 60, we will be capping at 61. What happens when another company comes? We will have to amend at 62,” said Boelen.
“As far as I’m concerned, that defeats the purpose of all the work we did with a moratorium, and putting a cap,” Boelen said.
Mayor Tari Renner is willing to consider special arrangements for businesses making large investments.
“If we have somebody who wants to build something and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a site that’s been vacant for over 20-years, to invest in a critical site in our community, we’ll consider special considerations for them too,” the mayor said.
In a report to the council, city staffers said the land as it is used now generated $2,122 in property tax revenue this year. When developed, staff estimated the property will produce about $7,000 in annual tax revenue. The restaurant would generate annual sales tax revenue of between $37,180 and $42,900, according to city staff.
The owners agreed not to use the word “gaming” in the restaurant’s name, but city staffers said Lu Lu’s will have the maximum-allowed five video terminals.
City Clerk Leslie Yocum said 54 of the available 60 gambling licenses have been distributed, and there are no pending license applications.
Lu Lu’s is assured a gambling license even if other establishments secure the remaining six licenses before the pizza restaurant opens for business.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at email@example.com