Tax incentive mulled for proposed Aurora cafe, market at old veterinary clinic

By Ken Lahmers
Special to the Aurora Advocate

AURORA – City Council is considering granting a tax abatement to an Aurora couple who plan to open a business in the former Aurora Veterinary Clinic building on South Aurora Road adjacent to Aurora Cemetery.

Legislation was introduced April 12 to grant a Community Reinvestment Area I abatement to 46 S. Aurora Road LLC, which would operate Evexia Cafe & Market. The owners are Bryan and J.J. Garber.

The former Aurora Veterinary Clinic building shown here may become a cafe and market if City Council grants a tax abatement to a couple seeking to open the business.

The abatement would be for 12 years at 50 percent for the couple’s $425,000 in improvements to the property. The Garbers said they hope to get started on the renovations in May and be open by this fall.

The project will entail HVAC, electrical and plumbing renovations, a kitchen installation, patio construction, restrooms and exterior aesthetic and functional improvements, resulting in an estimated payroll of $350,000 annually within three years.

Economic Development Director Holly Harris Bane described the business as a “casual cafe, bakery and market,” which will offer breakfast and brunch, with 30 seats available for on-premises dining plus takeout.

She added the business also plans to offer after-hours programs for local students and the general public, some vegan and vegetarian food choices and products from local vendors.

“We’ve lived in Aurora for eight years and love this town,” said J.J. Garber. “We’ve found that a few things are missing here, including an independent coffee shop, bakery and place to get some healthy food options, so we hope to fill that void.

“We want to become a community gathering place. We’re making a big investment. We’re grateful for the opportunity to be included in the CRA, and any financial help is a big boost.”

The Garbers are proposing to open with two full-time permanent employees and 13 part-time permanent employees. The total investment is set at $760,000, with the $425,000 in improvements qualifying for the abatement.

In their application for the abatement, the Garbers stated it would help the business keep costs in line with current financial projections and supply a higher likelihood of success.

In a letter to the Aurora Board of Education, City Finance Director Tim Clymer noted that given the estimated payroll amount, the district likely would not be eligible for a split of the income tax dollars received from the new jobs.

“I’m very excited to see this business open, and I hope residents will support it,” said Ward 3 Councilwoman Reva Barner.

OTHER BUSINESS

Council ratified a three-year bargaining agreement between the city and Local 2488 of the International Association of Firefighters, which runs from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2023.

Law Director Dean DePiero said it includes a small hourly adjustment with a 2 ½ percent pay increase in each of the three years and increased employee contributions for health insurance in the third year.

“We worked very hard on this, and I think it’s a fair agreement,” said DePiero. “Everyone didn’t get what they wanted, but they got what they needed. Our negotiations are continuing with unions representing clerical and service department workers.”

The promotion of Sara Cooper from assistant engineer to city engineer was OK’d at a salary of $95,500. Compensation was adjusted for planning-zoning secretary Erin Lumpkins, Town Hall receptionist/secretary Jennifer Kropf and parks crew member Jacob Tinsley.

Council confirmed the mayor’s appointment of Ben Sutton as a member of the architectural board of review through Dec. 31, 2021. He replaces Mark Verdova.

Parks-Recreation Director Laura Holman reported the splash pad along West Pioneer Trail at Kiwanis-Moore Playground is on target to open in early summer.

Contact the newspaper at auroraadvocate@recordpub.com