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Illinois city grants tax incentives to open Ashley store

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — City government officials have approved a sales tax reimbursement incentive of up to $150,000 for developers planning to open an Ashley Furniture HomeStore here, according to a report by The (Bloomington, Ill.) Pantograph.

The store would open at a former 28,000-square-foot Big Lots location vacant since 2007 and would boost city funds by about $850,000, the report said. The incentive plan would reimburse developer Mike Bruegge half of the "home rules sales tax revenue" the store brings in over the first five years in business or $150,000, whichever comes first, the report said.

The report said the shopping center is 65% occupied with the recent exit of crafts retailer Michael's.

"This is dismal in terms of the retail environment," Bloomington Economic Development Coordinator Justine Robinson told the newspaper. "It is essential that something be done to stimulate activity."

Some city official voted against the incentive voicing concern the store could hurt the business of existing retailers paying full state sales taxes.

At least one local furniture store objected, too.

"They're not going to expand the market. They're just going to give rebates to a new retailer and lose tax dollars from an existing retailer," Chuck Montgomerie, manager of Rooms Direct, said in a local news report before the vote. "It's robbing Peter to pay Paul."

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