Hofbräuhaus expected to be big regional draw
The Hofbräuhaus St. Louis — the massive, much anticipated, German-style beer hall that Belleville hopes will become a major regional attraction — is slated to officially hold its grand opening April 18.
Patterned after a 400-year-old Munich landmark, the $12 million restaurant and brewery is envisioned as the centerpiece of a meeting, hotel, and recreation complex on Illinois Route 15, across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
The City of Belleville has approved up to $32.36 million in tax incentives for the project, based on city tax revenue generated by the businesses, and invested another $2 million extending water and sewer service to the site.
Construction began in late 2015 and developers, with an opening originally scheduled June 1, 2016; but construction delays have forced postponements several times.
Similar Hofbräuhauses have opened in Las Vegas and Chicago.
The beer hall held a “soft opening” in mid-March and has been serving customers seven-days-a-week since.
Local state senator named as ambassador to Kenya
The White House announced March 28 that President Donald Trump has nominated Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) to be the next U.S. ambassador to Kenya. Sen. McCarter is not running for re-election and reportedly applied for the ambassadorship last year.
State Sen. McCarter and his wife, Victoria, have taken an active interest in the African nation for more than 30 years; establishing a charity known as Each One Feed One International in the Kenyan city of Tharaka.
The organization operates a medical clinic that serves about 15,000 people a year; supports a K-8 elementary school; and assists abandoned, abused or orphaned children.
Hearings on State Sen. McCarter’s nomination are expected before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, this month.
McCarter was recommended for the ambassadorship by all seven Republican members of the Illinois congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville), and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville).
Grocers beginning to return to East St. Louis community
East St. Louis again has a full-service grocery store and may have more over the coming months.
Neighbors’ Market is scheduled to open this month at 1005 N. 15th St.; offering a full selection of fresh meats, produce, dairy goods, and even a deli counter. Co-owners Sterling Moody and Charles Bussey plan to open a second store in 2018, and eventually have three to five around the city.
East St. Louis (population approximately 20,000) has not has a full-service grocery since Schnucks Markets closed its store at 2511 State Street on May 2, 2015.
The new Neighbor’s Market is in the storefront formerly occupied by the Jazz Market, a closed food store on the ground floor of a senior housing development.
The owners say the key to success of their store will be efficiency; offering a full range of grocery items in compact store, as well as a staff already experience in the grocery business or related fields.
The start-up is being financed in part with federal funding for full-service grocery outlets in “food desserts” where the full range for foodstuffs necessary for a balanced diet my not be readily available.
Region targets 2 percent safety improvement
The East West Gateway Council of Governments (EWG) is hoping to make the greater St. Louis area, including Metro East, two percent safer over the coming years.
The EWG Executive Advisory Committee gave final approval to a new set of 2018 Regional Safety Performance Targets for the St. Louis Metropolitan Area at its March 20 meeting.
As part of an overall effort to improve traffic safety by two percent across the area, the regional planning agency hopes reduce traffic fatalities, serious traffic accident injuries, and bike/pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries; each by two percent.
The U.S. Department of Transportation this year is requiring all states and federally-recognized metropolitan planning organization to establish new “rolling” annual safety improvement targets covering a five-year period. States and planning agencies will have the option to adjust safety improvement targets each year to reflect overall national trends.
EWG had the option to set its own safety targets for the eight-county greater St. Louis area or let the Missouri and Illinois sections of the region separately take part in state traffic safety improvement programs.
EWG staff has not yet publicly announced how the agency hopes to facilitate a two percent reduction in traffic-related safety.
Because the EWG safety targets were approved by the agency’s board of directors on Feb. 20, the planning organization met a federal deadline to establish targets by that month.
In a related public health note, the EWG staff reports the agency has been using the St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS) — developed in 2004 with a federal Homeland Security grant to address threats such as bioweapons attacks — to track and mitigate the influenza surge in the area this year.
Dupo I-255 interchange project getting another look
Plans for a long-sought Interstate 255 interchange at Imbs Station Road in Dupo will be submitted for grant funding under the new Illinois Competitive Freight Program, according to St. Clair County authorities.
The county comprehensive plan calls for development of the exchange and an adjacent Discovery Business Park in Dupo and East Carondelet.
However, the Federal Highway Administration fears the project could disturb archaeological resources in area. The St. Louis Board last month contracted with for Kansas City, Missouri-based engineering firm Burns and McDonnell, Inc. for a new study on the project and a grant application.
The Dupo project will not be submitted in time for this year’s Illinois State Freight Plan grants, which are scheduled to be announced in June. The application deadline for those grants closed April 6.
Under the grant program, the Illinois Department of Transportation is distributing up to $225 million in National Highway Freight Program funds through 2022 for projects designed to improve the mobility of freight at the local level.
–Metro East Area News Briefs–