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New Restaurant Row deal in the works for downtown

A new development plan is works for 'restaurant row' New York Street west Fox River downtown Aurora. | Sun-Times MediFile

A new development plan is in the works for "restaurant row," on New York Street west of the Fox River in downtown Aurora. | Sun-Times Media File

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:28AM

AURORA — A Batavia-based Italian restaurant is planning to open a second location in Aurora’s Restaurant Row, city officials said Tuesday.

The city’s Finance Committee voted 2-1 to move forward a proposed redevelopment deal that would pave the way for Aliano’s Ristorante to open a location in downtown Aurora. The city has crafted a development deal with 5 Way LLC for properties at 29, 31 and 33 W. New York St., commonly known as part of downtown’s Restaurant Row.

Aldermen Abby Schuler, 1st Ward, and Lynda Elmore, 10th Ward, voted to approve the measure. Finance Chairman Bob O’Connor, at-large alderman, voted no. He said he would have felt more comfortable holding a vote at the next Finance Committee meeting or moving it forward to the full City Council without a recommendation.

David Dorgan, chief development consultant with economic development group Seize the Future, said the new restaurant is an effort to rehab Restaurant Row.

Aliano’s owner Mario Aliano said that his Batavia location is very successful.

“I’m so excited to be in Aurora. I wanted to create something that is a ‘wow.’ I think it’s time to do something that [attracts] more people to come down here,” Aliano said.

Under the complex agreement, the city is committing $750,000 in Tax Increment Financing dollars to 5 Way LLC, the landlord that would come to own 29, 31 and 33 W. New York St. Vernon LaVia is current owner of the 29 W. New York property, formerly known as Bacci’s Pizzeria.

Under the agreement, LaVia would also become owner of the 31 and 33 W. New York St. properties, which are currently occupied by Chef Amaury’s Epicurean Affair. LaVia said Amaury Rosado’s restaurant will stay in place under the proposed deal.

Aliano’s would occupy the street level of 29 W. New York St., as well as the lower level of 29, 31 and 33 W. New York St. The restaurant will also occupy a new fully-enclosed addition attached to 29 W. New York St.

The Aliano’s deal hinges on the city’s planned purchase of a property at 35 W. New York St., according to Chief Development Officer Bill Wiet.

The city aims to purchase the property, formerly known as the Lamplighter Tavern, for $280,000 using TIF funds from seller Marie F. Leach, according to city documents.

Wiet said the city may market the 35 W. New York St. property with the property next door at 37 W. New York St., formerly known as the Comfort Zone, a BBQ restaurant. Comfort Zone closed in Dec. 2011.

Comfort Zone was the first to open in September 2009 on the north side of Restaurant Row, a project by developer Steve Arwady. About $500,000 was paid to Arwady in TIF funds. In October 2011, the city sent a notice of default to the Row’s developer for lack of performance.

The 37 W. New York St. property has a built-out kitchen and handicapped-accessible bathrooms, Wiet said. The city may purchase the property at some point prior to marketing the two properties as one future restaurant.

The Finance Committee also voted to approve the city’s purchase of the 35 W. New York property by a 2-1 vote. Schuler and Elmore recommended the deal move forward; O’Connor voted no.

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