TrueMuse concert Jan. 22 at Ravisloe to feature Latin sounds of Sueños

Homewood trustees agreed
Tuesday to enter into a contract
to purchase 18138 Dixie
Highway, formerly Savoia T’Go
(Photo by Eric
Crump/The Chronicle)

The village of Homewood banked a second downtown property in as many weeks Tuesday in an effort to have more control over development. 

In a split vote, Homewood trustees approved a contract with the owners of 18138 Dixie Highway, formerly Savoia T’Go Restaurant, to purchase the property for $151,700. Money for the purchase would come from the fund balance in the general fund, according to Village Manager Jim Marino.

Supporters of the move see an opportunity to improve the economic stability of downtown Homewood. An opposing trustee sees more risk than gain and said the purchase was an expenditure the village can’t afford.

Marino said the property on the southwest corner of Dixie Highway and Hickory Road is a good site for redevelopment. The village also owns the adjacent land that is currently Independence Park, which could be part of a redevelopment package.


“By owning the property we would have direct control over the use and type of development,” Marino said.

The village has two plans guiding its decisions on downtown development, the Downtown Master Plan approved in 2005 and Homewood Strategic Plan 2010-2015. The latter includes land banking as an objective toward the goal of promoting downtown economic development. 

Trustees approved another land bank measure Dec. 23 when they entered into a contract to purchase Ryan Funeral Home at 18022 Dixie Highway. The board also hired Global Studios to study the feasibility of developing a community science center there.

The board approved the contract to buy the vacant restaurant by a vote of 5 to 1, and two of the five said they were initially skeptical of the move.

“I was not in favor of this initially,” Trustee Barbara Dawkins said. “But I do think now that it’s an important investment, especially given where this parcel of land sits in our downtown. It makes sense that we have some control over what goes there.”

Another skeptic, Trustee Anne Colton, said she was persuaded that it was a good move after doing some research on the issue.

“Land banking is something that’s done. It’s a pretty common technique for controlling downtowns,” she said. “We need to be proactive in order to keep our downtown strong.”

Trustee Jay Heiferman also supported the measure but urged village officials to come up with a plan for how the property will be used and maintained until it is redeveloped.

The dissenting vote was cast by Trustee Ray Robertson, who said both the Savoia and Ryan’s purchases seemed premature because neither has a definite development plan ready to go.

“The (Savoia) property has been for sale for a long time. There’s been no interest in the property at all,” he said, noting he worries the village will be stuck with a difficult-to-market property.

He also questioned the prudence of taking money from the general fund to make the purchase.

“We really don’t have the money to do this. We’re taking money out of other projects.”

Related story:
Homewood trustees OK pursuit of science center development, agree to purchase Ryan’s Funeral Home (The Chronicle, Dec. 23, 2014)

More information:
Board of Trustees meeting video
Revitalizing Blighted Communities with Land Banks (by Jessica de Wit, University of Michigan)
Homewood Strategic Plan 2010-2015
Downtown Master Plan (2005)

Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]

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