Peoria City Leaders React To Possible Closure of Big Al's

By WEEK Producer

Peoria City Leaders React To Possible Closure of Big Al's

April 5, 2012 Updated Apr 6, 2012 at 10:57 AM CDT

Locally, the owner of Big Al's says if the "pole tax" is approved, the tax would likely put him out of business.

"I am kind of dragging my feet," said club owner Al Zuccarini.

Big Al's currently sits exactly where the second half of the downtown hotel redevelopment project will be developed.

"I'm not going to put up a 15,000 square foot building and not know what's going inside. That wouldn't be smart," said Zuccarini.

Zuccarini says he isn't going to begin building his new club off of Jefferson until he knows what is happening with the bill because he says if it passes he will have to close his doors.

The proposal is to charge a $5 tax for every person entering a strip club serving alcohol. Zuccarini says Chicago adult clubs do not serve alcohol.

"I can't pay the state $5 and then pay 3 percent to the city," said Zuccarini, referring to the city's hotel restaurant and amusement tax.

He says legislators keep using Texas' tax as an example and it's a bad one.

Texas has 100 more adult clubs than Illinois, and in the three years since the pole tax passed there no one has seen a dime because the money is tied up in escrow while the issue is stuck in the courts.

"It really is more of a reflection of the climate in Springfield and what happens to legislation that has an affect on local businesses," said Pat Urich, Peoria City Manager.

Urich and Mayor Jim Ardis say they understand Zuccarini's position. Now the city may suffer the consequences of losing a 37 year business and it's share of HRA tax money because of the state.

One thing Mayor Jim Ardis says Peoria won't lose because of the pending "pole tax" is the downtown hotel project.

"I understand his concerns but it won't have an impact of the Marriott project," said Ardis.

As for what will happen to Zuccarini and his business he hopes the state will come to its senses before he's forced out of his current location.

"I have 13 months. They can drag it on, but until I realize what is going on, I am going to be dragging my feet as much as possible," he said.

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