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Taco John's to return to Peru

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COMING SOON:Ben Van Baalenposes near a sign on North Broadway announcing the coming of a new Taco John’s location in the city.
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DEVELOPING:A car passes a plot of landon North Broadwayjust south of the U.S. 24 interchange in this October file photo. The site is expected to be home to a new Taco John’s location in the spring of 2020.

BY JARED KEEVER - jkeever@perutribune.com

A once-rumored project coming to the city of Peru has advanced beyond the rumor stage after the City Council on Monday approved an incentive package for the development and the backers announced their intentions.

“I am beyond excited to announce that I will be opening Taco Johns in Peru come spring 2020,” Ben Van Baalen announced in a Facebook post on Friday.

That was about the same time that the Indiana University Kokomo business student placed a sign announcing the project at the site on North Broadway just south of the U.S. 24 interchange.

Jim Tidd, executive director for the Miami County Economic Development Authority, had signaled such an announcement was coming for the project at what is typically referred to as Broadway Landing.

Tidd appeared before the Peru City Council in October asking officials to put together a three-person panel – required by state law – to review the tax increment financing incentive package that was to be proposed for the development.

That happened Monday with the panel forwarding a recommendation to approve the deal and the Council voting to do so, Tidd said.

The terms of the deal, Tidd explained Wednesday, are that the Development Authority will reimburse the developer – listed in the agreement as TDV3, LLC – 60 percent of the real property taxes on the property each year for a period of 15 years.

“We are incentivizing the development here,” Tidd said. “We are recognizing the investment that is being made.”

Tidd said the assessed value of the property, once the project is complete, could be as high $500,000.

Van Baalen, son of local businessman Dave Van Baalen, said there are a lot of things about the project that just felt right.

“The big one for me is the amount of nostalgia that Peru and the surrounding area has for Taco John’s,” he said in a Monday phone interview.

Those memories are tied to an old location of the franchise that was a bit south of where the younger Van Baalen wants to open his business – which, he pointed out, was incidentally the location of his mother’s first job when she was in high school.

Though it eventually closed, he said he feels there is still a strong loyalty to the business, which in recent years has undergone a rebranding effort.

“I thought that all of those things combined would really make it perfect,” he said.