$1.5 million Du Quoin redevelopment agreement will build new Dairy Queen at the old location

Du Quoin Mayor Rex Duncan and economic development director Jeff Ashauer tonight will discuss with the Du Quoin City Council the details of a $1.5 million redevelopment agreement that will build an all-new Dairy Queen restaurant in Du Quoin.

Here are the basic plans for putting a curl back on top of an ice cream cone in Du Quoin.

After demolition, the new restaurant will be built on the old Dairy Queen site in the Du Quoin State Bankpark on Rt. 51 South across from Walmart and in front of the Du Quoin American Legion. It will have the look and feel of new restaurants being built under Dairy Queen's franchise and licensing agreements.

The owner will be the family that purchased the Pinckneyville Dairy Queen in mid-2012. That restaurant is owned by Taste of Fantasy, LLC

One family member of Taste of Fantasy LLC is Ting Ni, who operates the Pinckneyville restaurant. She told the newspaper Sunday drawings are finished. The family hopes to take bids in April and begin construction within two weeks after that. The new restaurant will be smaller than the vacant restaurant that sits on the property now, built in the 1980s as a Druthers Restaurant. She said the new restaurant will seat 47 instead of 70, which Dairy Queen believes is a perfect fit for the Du Quoin market. The family hopes the new restaurant will be finished by late July or early August. Her father and another partner are also part of the company.

Ashauer said he understood that the Du Quoin State Bank, which owns the property was to have closed on the sale of the property Friday.

"Essentially, we bought the lot," said Ting.

Ashauer said he understands the budget for the project is about $1.5 million. Blueprints for the new restaurant have already been approved by Dairy Queen corporate. It will relay on private financing, the cooperation of the Du. Quoin State Bank and will access development money from Du Quoin's half-cent south side business development sales tax. That tax, enacted last year, helped bring the Bottom Dollar grocery to Du Quoin and remodel the Chip Banks Chevrolet dealership on Rt. 51 south of Du Quoin.

The city will also provide hands-on help for the project by assisting with a new entrance off of Grant Way along the north side of the property.

Trouble in the "Land of Dairy Queen" began in November 2011 when owners Ken and Lee Furry closed the two restaurants they owned in both Du Quoin and Pinckneyville. The paper trail on problems went back to April 28, 2009 when the Furrys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A case filed under Chapter 11 is frequently referred to as a "reorganization" bankruptcy where a plan is presented to a court trustee to retire debts and seek debt counseling while the petitioner remains in business. Typically, monies are placed in the trustee's hands to retire outstanding debts. That was seldom or never done.

On October 3, 2011 that case was closed and the bankruptcy was changed to a Chapter 7 case, which requires the liquidation of assets by the petitioner.

The Du Quoin State Bank was awarded the properties and in March 2012 found a buyer for the Pinckneyville restaurant as work continued to find a buyer for the Du Quoin property.

The City of Du Quoin has made small business development the cornerstone of its work during the past five years.

More than 70 redevelopment agreements have been written during that time, many involving renovations and face lifts in downtown Du Quoin as well as full-blown proposals involving the St. Nicholas Brewing Co. and restaurant, Bottom Dollar, Chip Banks Chevrolet and the Baked by Gene Bakery. The new Green Mountain meat market on West Main Street is tentatively scheduled to open this week.

Mayor Duncan has hinted on his Facebook page at interest in two other properties. The newspaper understands one may involve the building north of Oasis Pools and Spas that years ago was the company store and warehouse for Wonder Bread and more recently housed Cole's Cycle Shop.