Upscale restaurant and housing in the works in London

London resident and developer Paul Gross plans to build an upscale restaurant on State Route 56 SW in London. This rendering shows what the front of the restaurant will look like.

(Posted March 10, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

In the next few weeks, London resident and developer Paul Gross expects to break ground on a project to bring an upscale sit-down restaurant, 60 independent living apartments, and 60 active living condominiums to London.

All of it will be located on State Route 56 SW adjacent to Gross’s Bluebird Retirement Community. First up on the construction timeline are the restaurant and condos. Once roads and infrastructure are in place, work will begin on the apartments.

“We’re planning to move very quickly. We hope to get the restaurant open before the Christmas season,” Gross said. “It’s very likely we will have some finished condos before the restaurant is completed.”

The 7,200 square-foot restaurant will sit along Route 56, to the left of the driveway in front of Bluebird. Gross is modeling the restaurant after one he visited in Bozeman, Montana.

“It’s going to be a posh restaurant and bar. Very modern. It’s going to be a place that everyone wants to hang out,” he said.

Customers will have two options when they visit the restaurant. One side will offer a quiet, intimate dining experience. The other side will offer more of a high-end bar atmosphere with sporting events on television, high-top tables, and a “little more buzz.” Outdoor patio seating is part of the design. The facility also will be able to accommodate groups for meetings and parties. As of now, the plan is for the restaurant to be open seven days a week.

A new housing development geared toward individuals who are 62 and older is slated for construction in London. Sixty condominiums and 60 apartments are set to be built behind the Bluebird Retirement Community on State Route 56 SW in London. The construction project also includes an upscale restaurant which will sit out along State Route 56.

The apartments and villa-style condos will be located directly behind the Bluebird facility. All will be available for lease only. The gated community will be geared toward individuals who are 62 and older.

“It’s very much strategically designed around keeping people fully independent,” Gross said.

The concept prioritizes safety, easy living and socialization. The condos and apartments are being designed without stairs. Smooth transitions are planned wherever possible, such as in showers.

The apartment complex will be built around a two-story clubhouse featuring an indoor/outdoor pool, woodworking shop, greenhouse, yoga and exercise room, movie theater, hair salon, and a residents-only restaurant and pub.

Golf cart paths and common green spaces between condos will allow residents to easily visit one another. Pickle ball, bocce ball, and shuffleboard courts are planned, as well.

“The idea is to facilitate socialization, one of the things people lose as they age,” Gross said. “And when you take away the hazards that people have in their homes, and they are able to get rid of responsibilities like mowing the grass and plowing snow, all that’s left is fun.”

As for when the entire complex will be completely built out, Gross said demand will drive the timeline to a degree but that he expects to be finished by the end of 2022.

On March 4, London city council unanimously approved a 100 percent property tax exemption for 10 years for the project. The property sits in an area the city and state designated as a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA). The designation allows local governments to offer tax incentives to encourage economic development.

Per the agreement, Gross, as the developer, intends to invest at least $18 million into the project, complete it by December 2023, and create 20 full-time jobs with a total payroll of $600,000.

In actuality, Gross said, those numbers will be higher.

“We expect to create 70 jobs by the end of 2022. Our payroll numbers will be more than double what is listed (in the CRA agreement). And we expect the project cost to be closer to $30 million,” he said.

London City Schools and Tolles Career and Technical Center have signed off on the property tax exemption. Currently, the land is enrolled in the Current Agricultural Use Value (CAUV) program. As such, it generates just a couple hundred dollars in property tax each year. While the schools will not receive property taxes from the development for 10 years, they will receive 50 percent of the income tax the project generates.

Rich Hays, the city council member who sponsored the CRA agreement legislation, praised Gross as a proven businessman and said he is excited about the project.

“This is a tremendous asset coming to our city,” he said.

Henry Comer, city council president, said residents have been clamoring for more sit-down restaurant options and that the project as a whole has the potential to attract more investment to the city.

“It seems like a win-win situation for everyone–for the schools, for the city, for the community,” he said.

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