Compromise reached with neighbors in Egyptian’s bid for Palmer Ct.

February 28, 2019

DeKALB – Representatives of the Egyptian Theatre have reached a compromise with neighbors in their quest to acquire a portion of a nearby alley for their planned expansion project.

Alex Nerad, the theater’s executive director, said the city and the theater each will give some land to Larry and Kay Berke, owners of Royal Travels & Tours, 122 N. First St. The Berkes own the building and live on the second floor.

The agreement was reached after a meeting with city and theater officials, as well as with Hillside Restaurant co-owner Gavin Wilson.

“We’ve come up with a solution that all parties involved are happy with,” Nerad said. “We feel very happy with the resolution.”

Nerad said specific terms of the compromise were still being discussed, but it involves the transfer of some city- and theater-owned property along Palmer Court to the Berkes’ to act as a permanent buffer between the properties. In return, the theater will acquire some of Palmer to make way for its planned expansion.

Berke had intiaily expressed concern about the view of the new addition from his home.

City Council members on Monday postponed a vote that would have given a small part of Palmer Court, less than a half-acre behind the theater at 135 N. Second St., to the theater to build an addition as part of a planned $4.5 million construction project. The city is contributing $2.5 million in tax-increment financing funds for the project.

Wilson and Berke made their comments made at a heated Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Feb. 20.

“In doing so, the Berkes have agreed to support the current footprint of the expansion project that has been proposed,” Nerad said, adding the dimensions of both properties are still being defined. “I can’t provide any dimensitons other than saying it’s a very small portion of land from the theater and the city.”

“I think it was fair,” Larry Berke said. “I thought it was an awesome meeting. All systems are go. We’re in.”

Nerad said the theater’s board of directors was to meet Wednesday night to discuss the plan.

“I anticipate [the board] will approve and move forward with what was worked out,” Nerad said.

Mary Wilson, co-owner of Hillside Restaurant and Gavin Wilson’s wife, expressed strong opposition to the plan on Feb. 20, but dialed her comments back Monday after learning that sewer work was to be done around her restaurant, which she said also needs work.