For years, the Village of Fox River Grove threatened condemnation – the involuntary taking of private property through litigation – driving out businesses in the name of commercial development.
A lone restaurant, New China, has withstood the Village’s years-long attempt to take property through the use of eminent domain, which can charitably be described here as the Village’s desire to force out actual businesses to make room for the possibility of future businesses.
It’s gotten so bad – the Village’s decimation of the block so successful – that the empty building next door to New China now has a sign threatening people to keep out by order of the police. Facing the end, New China’s owner had no choice but to settle.
In a recent newspaper article, New China’s owner described the horrible feeling of having built a business for decades only to have nothing to show for it. The Village did not pay enough for him to relocate, he said; so after decades as his own boss, the long-time restaurant owner now has to go find a job.
And what is the Village’s big plan for the property? Alarmingly, the Village is quoted as saying that it’s “pretty open to what could be located there.” In other words, the government destroyed a block, and the livelihoods of its hard-working business owners, so that it could decide what it wanted to do.
The Village is even quoted as saying it’s open to putting a restaurant there. No word on why the Village decided to sacrifice a restaurant the community supported for nearly half a century. The article documents the numerous commenters on Facebook who recalled how they marked life’s moments at New China.
But the Village knows better: sure, it knows how to pick the winners that stalwarts like New China outlasted for decades. It’ll no doubt lure flash-in-the-pan restaurants with tax incentives, rendering hollow any lip service to expanding the tax base.
But what will end up happening? Whatever the Village wants, and that’s the point. After all, where was New China located? Across from the Village’s own municipal center. Village officials want complete control over what stores and restaurants happen to be in walking distance during their lunch hour.
This was a power grab, bankrolled by taxpayers who are just now getting news of personal stories like these. On New China’s marquee, besides a thank you to its long-time patrons? An unmistakable message: “They won.”
Buchman, C. (2021, October 13). Fox River Grove uses eminent domain to buy downtown properties, meaning possible redevelopment but also new China’s closure. Shaw Local. Retrieved January 1, 2022, from https://www.shawlocal.com/northwest-herald/news/local/2021/10/13/fox-river-grove-uses-eminent-domain-to-buy-downtown-properties-meaning-possible-redevelopment-but-also-new-chinas-closure/