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Developer Proposes Convention Center Complex In Belleville

Hofbrauhaus, Shrine, Belleville
(courtesy Keller Entreprises)

A new convention center, two hotels, and several restaurants are being proposed for development across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, all with the Catholic organization’s blessing.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate own the 177-acre proposed site north of Illinois Route 15, just across from the Shrine. The Oblates said at a news conference Monday the development will augment their own conference space at the Shrine.

Guest services and marketing manager for the Shrine Chris Diel said it would also allow them to close an old hotel on the grounds.

"Then those funds can be diverted back to the Oblates’ core missions and then any type of gain they might get across the street can go back into their missions, as well," Diel said.

The Oblates will lease the land to Keller Enterprises of Effingham in a 50-year contract, that would include options for two 25-year extensions. The developer is proposing a 30,000 square foot convention center, a 130-room hotel, a Hofbrauhaus  pub and eatery, and a convenience store and gas station during the first phase.

Forrest Langenfeld, a consultant working with Keller Enterprises, said the restaurant chain Hofbrauhaus will be a draw.

"This is a major national chain borne out in Germany in the 1500s," Langenfeld said. "There will be as many people from the Missouri side of the river and maybe some sneaking up from Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana."

As part of the plan, the city of Belleville would annex both the development and the Shrine. The deal calls for tax incentives of up to $15 million. Mayor Mark Eckert says the project would generate up to $500,000 in sales tax revenue annually for the city.

"We believe this is truly going to be an exciting part of the future of the city," Eckert said. "Growing this Route 15 corridor and just looking at new ways to be regionally looked at."

The Belleville City Council is expected to vote on the plan next Tuesday. With approval, Keller Enterprises expects to break ground sometime in late June or early July. The first phase of the project is projected to cost $50 million.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.