Author: Susan Walton

Cleveland-Heath Debuts Early Summer Menu

Cleveland-Heath chef Ed Heath is fresh off his very first James Beard Foundation award nomination, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing things down at his landmark Edwardsville eatery. Heath and his team, including his wife Jenny Cleveland, try to change up the menu every six weeks as different ingredients become available locally. This week, that means ditching dishes before they’ve “overstayed their welcome,” according to Heath, in favor of lamb, plus in-season asparagus and strawberries.

The new lamb dish will be shawarma with Indian pickles, tahini and hummus, sourced from Midwest Lamb’s Jenna Pohl. The lamb is pasture-raised and grass-fed in Charleston, Illinois. Heath says Pohl’s supply is just now getting into full swing, so he didn’t want to completely nix a favorite.

“I didn’t want to take it off the menu. We’ve done two different lamb dishes already [this year], Cubana and Moroccan,” he says. “So we’re going to switch over and do something Lebanese now – I really love Lebanese food.”

Other early summer dishes debuting this week include burrata cheese with local asparagus, black pepper and char roe, a soft shell crab boil and a rotating ceviche tostada with ingredients like rock shrimp, bay scallops and possibly poached oysters. “I’m really excited about that one,” Heath admits. He’s also adding more salads and some corn here and there to “pray for a really good corn season this year.”

Unfortunately, diners will have to say goodbye to the Swedish meatballs with egg noodles, yogurt, jam and parsley, and the boquerones with sauce gribiche, paprika and herbs on pillow loaf toast. Another casualty is the shaved raw beef and celery kung pao – Heath’s favorite dish on the menu – which he says is just too hot for the next few weeks.

“I want to do a veggie-heavy menu, and I keep trying, but since there’s not a ton of local stuff available right now, I get pushed into doing stuff that’s not really veggie-heavy,” Heath says. “We’ve been getting some awesome local asparagus lately – there are a couple teeny tiny farms [nearby]. I’m hoping to get some eggplant popping up, too.”

Cleveland-Heath is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday from 11am to 10pm, Friday from 11am to 11pm and Saturday from 10am to 11pm.

Cleveland-Heath, 106 N. Main St., Edwardsville, Illinois, 618.307.4830, clevelandheath.com

Feast Magazine

City officials to create a business district for Montclaire Shopping Center

The Montclaire shopping center in Edwardsville may get its own business district to help fund a $2 million improvement, and the city may be creating a tax increment financing district along with it.

Montclaire includes a number of small shops like The Bike Shop, Edwardsville Flea Market, The Tot Spot and the Deals bargain store. But it also has some empty storefronts, and the building is showing its age.

Now city officials are working with owner R.L. Jones Properties to create a business district for the entire block, one that would add a 1-percent sales tax for the next 23 years. That would bring the sales tax in Montclaire up to 8.1 percent, the same as the Edwardsville Crossing business district on the other side of Troy Road that helped fund the Dierbergs plaza.

“(Montclaire) has come on some disrepair and it is difficult to attract new tenants,” said Edwardsville economic developer Walter Williams. “With the other shopping centers going in around Edwardsville, they need to spruce up to attract tenants.”

The center is about 77 percent full, with the largest vacancies recently created with the closures of a rent-to-own furniture and appliance store and the Crushed Grapes wine store. Remaining tenants include Pantera’s Restaurant, El Maguey and the Illinois Secretary of State Driver’s License Bureau, among others.

“The owners feel if they improve the exterior conditions, it will make the center more attractive,” Williams said. It sits along Troy Road, one of the busiest streets in town, but it is an older section compared to the new developments further south along Troy Road or in Edwardsville Crossing. Williams could not say exactly how old the building was.

“We want to see them continue to be successful in Edwardsville,” said Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton, who said he is very much in favor of the plan. “It is an older area of town, and people tend to drive by those areas if they’re not kept up.”

The plan includes new parking lots, roof work, facade improvements and other infrastructure details, which would include not only the main strip of stores, but the outbuilding that used to house Crushed Grapes and the Rapid Lube oil-change facility on the corner, Williams said.

The business district would simply add the 1-percent sales tax on to sales within that block, which then would be dedicated to assisting the building owner with the renovations. It’s a much simpler business district plan than most, Williams said, because the entire block is owned by one company. All the businesses are tenants, including Dan Vetter, owner of Edwardsville Flea Market. His business hosts more than 35 independent vendors selling antiques and collectibles in the Montclaire shopping center.

“I think it’s an excellent project that’s going to boost the economy in Edwardsville,” he said. “We’re all really excited about it.” He said he hopes that the higher sales tax won’t make a difference in sales, since they will be matching the Edwardsville Crossing rate, and it will be more than offset by the improvements.

But that isn’t all the city has planned for the middle section of town. Plans for a tax increment financing district are also in the works, stretching from the Keller Construction area on Center Grove through some of the older businesses along Plum Street and First Avenue to connect with Montclaire. Setting aside any increased property taxes within that district would allow the city to reinvest in infrastructure, bury utilities, create a streetscape environment and help development, Williams said.

“The idea is to connect all this and have the incentives available,” Patton said. “It’s important to be prepared and have the tools available for investors to attract to Edwardsville…. We do not want to neglect the middle part of the community.”

Williams hinted that a major retailer may have interest in property along those roads, but preexisting environmental contamination may make them hesitant. By having a TIF district in place, he said, funds would be available to help any such retailer remediate those properties and make them feasible for use.

Keller Construction in particular takes up a large amount of property along Center Grove Road, situated between two large retail districts and a movie theater. The construction company’s property sits behind a solid concrete wall, and stands out as an industrial use in a largely commercial and retail area.

“It’s a prime location,” Patton said. While no plans are currently on the books for Keller to move, Patton said they do own a significant property out by Route 255. “If someone comes along… we don’t know for sure, but it’s appropriate to be prepared,” he said.

The rest of the proposed TIF district is less well-known, off the main roads and often used by smaller businesses less dependent on foot traffic such as propane dealers or the Glen-Ed Food Pantry. One business only about a block from Troy Road is closing this fall: Bill’s Montclaire Floral, shutting down after more than 40 years in Edwardsville. The owner could not be immediately reached for comment, but the going-out-of-business sale has already begun.

A tax increment financing district is often a harder sell than a business district, as the latter only affects those who shop in the affect area. In a TIF district, any increase in property taxes is set aside in a special fund instead of going to the other taxing bodies. Most affected are schools, such as Edwardsville District 7, which receive the bulk of property taxes. Patton said he is meeting with new superintendent Lynda Andre this week to discuss the issue.

“We’ve been wise about incentives in the past, and I know the district has appreciated the growth that we’ve brought,” Patton said. “We will have more conversations with the school district.”

The business district is proceeding to a public hearing, the date of which has not yet been set. For the TIF district, the city has put out a request for proposals to do the initial study. Then a committee is formed of representatives from the various taxing bodies, who may weigh in at public hearings before the final decision is made.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.
News-Democrat

Anderson Hospital Edwardsville land deal expected to close Friday

Anderson Hospital will close on the purchase of a 10-acre parcel of land in Edwardsville, Ill. Friday, according to the broker working the deal.

The 10-acres Anderson is buying was part of a larger 49-acre parcel that was listed for slightly more than $16 million, according to Frank Chandler, associate broker for Edwardsville Landmark Realty who listed the property. Chandler said the deal is expected to close at 11 a.m. Friday.

The 154-bed, Maryville hospital has yet to decide what the land will be used for, hospital officials said in a statement. It’s possible officials will develop the land for either outpatient services like physician offices, imaging services, an urgent care facility or outpatient surgery. The site is about five miles away from the current hospital.

There’s no time table for developing the land, the statement reads.

“Like the city of Edwardsville, Anderson Hospital continues to plan proactively for the future,” said Keith Page, Anderson Hospital president.

On Feb. 3, all seven city council members approved an annexation agreement with Anderson Hospital. The site is south of Governors Parkway and District Drive in Edwardsville, Walt Williams, economic community development director for Edwardsville, told the Post-Dispatch.

Samantha Liss
Post-Dispatch

Planet Fitness building $7 million gym in Edwardsville

A franchisee has announced plans to build a $7.5 million Planet Fitness health club in Edwardsville.

The two-story, 30,000-square-foot gym and fitness center will be built at the corner of Center Grove Road and Illinois 159. Franchisee John Clancy said the new metro-east locale will be a flagship for his group, Planet Fitness Midwest, as several more locations are planned for the greater St. Louis area.

“There are really no low-cost options in Edwardsville, Clancy said. ‘We saw a big void and an underserved area. We love Edwardsville. It’s super regional, and we just love the town.”

Clancy said the Edwardsville gym is expected to open in the fall of 2015.

Clancy said the Edwardsville location will staff 15 employees and offer members 125 pieces of cardiovascular equipment, including treadmills, stair climbing machines, elliptical and stationary bikes with an HDTV for each machine. Members will also have access to the PF 30-Minute Express Circuit, PF 12- Minute AB/Core Circuit, two massage chairs and three hydro-massage beds.

Planet Fitness Midwest opened its first Planet Fitness last April across the river in Overland, Mo. The group also plans to open a location adjacent to Mid Rivers Mall in St. Peters, Mo. and another in Wentzville, Mo.

The group opened the first of several Planet Fitness locations in the greater Cincinnati area in 2012. That year, the franchisee opened in Finneytown, Ohio and two more in northern Kentucky. Last year, others were established in Cincinnati; Springdale, Ohio; and Milford, Ohio.

The chain was founded in 1992 and today totals 900-plus gyms that provides fitness memberships for as low as $10 a month. Chief operating officer Michael Hamilton said Planet Fitness provides a judgment-free, clean and comfortable place to work out at a great value.

“We’re thrilled at the chance to expand our offering and bring a dozen new locations to the St. Louis metro area,” Hamilton said in a released statement. “We’re excited to be opening our flagship Planet Fitness health club in Edwardsville.”

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 618-239-2526.
Belleville New-Democrat