RANTOUL — Requests for a pair of $500,000 EDA loans for business projects in Rantoul were recommended by the Economic Development Assistance loan committee last week.
The village board will vote on their approval this week.
Requesting the loans are Shear Excellence Salon to renovate the former Logan’s Pub at 424 S. Century Blvd., and move from its current location at 105 S. Century Blvd., and The Fringe Entertainment Center to build a 5,280-square-foot facility next to the Rantoul Family Sports Complex.
The committee also voted to recommend a zero percent interest rate for the life of the loans. It also recommended allowing the lendee of four current loans to come forward and request a zero percent interest rate. They include $236,000 of a $350,000 loan to Vijay Patel, owner of the Maple Grove Shopping Center to allow him to improve the center and the parking lot; $131,000 to Ian Wang; and $36,000 and $22,000 to two others. The interest rate would be for the remainder of the life of the loan.
Fringe Entertainment’s plan is to build a facility that will include 36 holes of miniature golf, an arcade, concession area and simulators.
Travis Flesner, representing the seven-person group that plans to build the entertainment facility, said it will be ideal for people attending games at the sports complex who are looking for entertainment, refreshments/food and to kill time between games. He said the proximity to the fields will be ideal.
Flesner said miniature golf will be the top priority. The arcade will have “10 to 12 machines.” Multi-sport simulators will be included. There will be a bar, snack bar and gaming machines.
Of the simulators, Flesner said: “This is not just your step-up and hit a golf-shot simulator. These simulators can do it all. You can have a swing analysis for golf. ... You can also play lots of other sports: bowling, baseball, dodgeball, soccer. Hunting is even one of the options.”
He said they will have two simulators to start.
A lounge area will be included where people can watch those using the simulators.
He said there will be a full-service bar and snack bar.
“We don’t want to be a restaurant, but we understand if people are going to play mini golf, they’re going to want something to eat,” he said, noting there will be a commercial air fryer, cold sandwiches and other options. Food trucks might also be invited in.
The group owns 3 acres at the site. The building and mini golf will take up 2 of those acres, and there will be room for growth. A portion of the course will be ADA-compliant. People in wheelchairs will be able to play. The course could handle up to 80 people an hour.
It will also feature a second-story patio located “within a stone’s throw from center field and championship field,” Flesner said.
Flesner said a mini golf course built in Rantoul has been a dream of his and Jeff McKaufsky, who is also part of the development group, since high school.
The developers envision the center can be open from mid-March to mid-November. The location, he said, will be also be attractive to people passing on Interstate 57.
He said the business will employ multiple bartenders and multiple course attendants plus wait staff.
The group estimates for the business to be profitable, 430 rounds of golf must be played per weekend, April-October. That doesn’t take into account the money made in the other areas of the facility.
In addition to the EDA loan and cash on hand, Fringe will get an a commercial loan to help pay for the project.
Committee member Connie Nelson said she was concerned “you’re going to spend all your money, $1.8 million, and you’ve got three months of negative cash flow. I know you have $350,000 savings that all of you are putting in a pot. ... I don’t think you want to wipe out all of your savings just to pay your bills.”
Flesner said there are some delayed purchases such as the simulators, which cost $75,000 apiece. Also the miniature golf course won’t be finalized until spring, and $950,000 won’t be due until they are operational a little before the spring. They hope to break ground in October.
Committee member Denny Long said they have had “some preliminary conversations with that,” regarding the cash flow issue, and he knows the owners are “sensitive to the fact that the $350,000 they’re going to either allocate part of that for ongoing cash flow needs and/or establishing an operating line of credit that would be available for them during those three months of down time.”
Long asked Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer to put in perspective the 430 rounds of golf figure in relation to the expectations of usage numbers at the sports complex. Eisenhauer said the complex has already exceeded expectations in terms of contracts.
“We had anticipated we would be able to rent the facility 20 weekends,” Eisenhauer said, anticipating a visitor total of 100,000. “Right now on the books, for the next five years we have 25 weekends just in baseball and softball sold out. Already we are past the 100,000-person (level they had projected).”
Two soccer tournaments with 150 teams each have also been booked — “and those are not included in the 25 weekends already booked,” Eisenhauer said. “We believe our numbers are going to be far better than we originally projected.”
The committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of the loan. Committee members Herman Fogal and Koleen Roseman were also present. Jim Smith and Brian Schurter were absent.
Co-owner Bridget Rogers, with her husband Ariel Rogers, wants to buy, renovate ad move into the former Logan’s Pub building that will allow their Shear Salon business to expand. The salon will retain its present 12 jobs and add 40 more.
“This is an already-established business in the community with a history of taking a vacant structure and turning it into something incredibly beautiful,” Bridget Rogers said, adding they had tried to buy real estate near their current location, but “it became too difficult.”
She said the major problem with their current location is limited (five spaces) parking. She said they evaluated the Logan’s Pub property and plan to install a new roof and completely renovate the building “and revitalize that corner.”
She said Shear Styling operates two shifts, seven days a week.
The salon has to take in $12,000 a month to make a profit in its current building. In the new building it would have to take in $49,000 monthly. The salon, she said, brought in $57,000 this month with part of the business being closed due to the COVID-19 quarantine.
Rogers said their business grew by 56 percent the first year and has been trending at 28 percent growth annually since then.
“I think the former Logan’s Pub is a beautiful building,” Rogers said. “I think it really needs some love and somebody who is going to take care of it and make it something. I guess I’ve got a thing for old restaurants.” (The business currently operates in the former Century Restaurant, which the Rogerses bought and renovated.)
Rogers said they will gut the new building, which they are in the process of negotiating for purchase, themselves.
They are looking to have 15 stations, employing 37 1/2 people and six in the spa. They would continue to employ a massage therapist. The business also has a retail license.
Long said he thinks finding qualified hairstylists would be an issue for the business.
Rogers said she has a strong relationship with a school in Urbana, where she teaches and does mock interviews. She is generally able to interview about 30 students at a time and is able to recruit employees that way.
She said the salon has a large customer base from Rantoul and the surrounding area.
Nelson said she would like them to do more homework on their cash flow “on what your actual costs are going to be. I’m not sure if the $500,000 will be adequate,” she said.
The committee voted 3-1 to recommend approval of the loan, with Nelson voting “no.”