EFFINGHAM — Plans for a strip center to replace the aging Paradise Inn on West Fayette Avenue moved forward last week, following the approval of site plans by the Effingham Plan Commission.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the proposal laid forth by Bill Drake of Drake Homes, Mark Ratterman of MBR Management Corp. (a franchisee of Domino’s Pizza) and Civil Design Inc. to demolish the motel and build the strip center consisting of two buildings, plus parking and space for two drive-up windows for restaurants. The Domino’s Pizza franchise will move across the street and be the first tenant. No other tenants have committed to the project at this time.

No official date has been set for the beginning of construction, but the intention is to have the building ready prior to the expansion of Fayette Avenue by the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2023.

Designs for the proposed project include one 6,142-square-foot building with three restaurant spaces and a spot for retail development and one 4,670-square-foot building with four office spaces. The main concern with the project is whether or not it could have enough parking spaces to fit the property, as the project only has enough space for 67 parking spaces — 63 regular ones and four handicapped spots. MBR has reached an agreement with Family Life Center, owners of the Silk Purse thrift shop next door, to sell eight feet of property in order to provide the project with enough parking.

City Engineer Luke Thoele said the project also needed contingencies approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“(They are) the acquisition of the eight-foot property east of the site, replatting of the property, proof of other easements necessary, IDOT approval, owner’s signature and additional comments from the city engineer,” Thoele said.

City Administrator Steve Miller said discussions regarding the property had been ongoing and that the city was aware the developers had bought the Paradise Inn property with the intention of building the new strip center. He noted that the businesses likely to move into the facility would be what people normally run into along Fayette Avenue, such as insurance agencies and pharmacies.

“We anticipate that it will be a nice building,” Miller said.

Miller also said the project could be of use to businesses that may need to relocate as a result of IDOT’s expansion in the coming years.

“It gives (them) an opportunity for some of those businesses to relocate in an area where they’re used to doing business, or it may be new businesses to town,” Miller said. “It’s taking a piece of property, relocating it with those types that fit along that corridor.”

Zach Roth can be reached at zach.roth@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at (217) 347-7151 ext. 132 or (217) 899-4338.

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