The owner of Lassen’s Tap on 183rd Street in Homewood has plans for major renovations, and the village of Homewood agreed Tuesday to invest in the project.
The Board of Trustees voted to award $203,500 in business incentive funds to help Lassen’s owner Chris Rieckerman purchase the property at 2131 W. 183rd St. The total purchase price is $407,000, according to village officials.
The money will come from a tax increment financing fund (TIF). TIF funding is the result of a freeze on the rate of disbursements to local taxing agencies. As property assessments rise, the revenue above the baseline rate is collected in a fund that can be used for economic development purposes.
The Southwest Central Business District TIF had a balance of $373,000 prior to the approval of this project, according to village Economic Development Director Tom Vander Woude.
Trustee Anne Colton echoed other trustees in expressing support for the project, but she expressed concern about the amount of the award.
“You’re a great company and you bring a lot to Homewood, but what I don’t want to do is sink all our money into one busness,” she said.
Vander Woude said the fund would still have a $169,500 balance, and there currently are no other projects in line for funding from that TIF.
He noted there is a potential for using the TIF to help redevelop the former Citgo gas station at 183rd Street and Morris Avenue. The South Suburban Land Band and Development Authority (SSLBDA) has the station on its list of possible acquistions, but that project is still in its early stages.
Village Manager Jim Marino said the TIF has a relatively short time left and will expire in seven years.
“I would be more concerned if there was more time left,” he said.
Vander Woude said part of the justification for recommending the award is Lassen’s prominent location on one of Homewood’s busiest thoroughfares and the success of the business.
Rieckerman has owned Lassen’s for 13 years. During that time, revenue has increased 500 percent, according to a memo from Vander Woude.
Rieckerman recently invested about $200,000 in interior renovations, Vander Woude said.
The renovations will include expanded seating, and Vander Woude said the expected increase in business could result in the village recouping its investment in about 10 years through sales and restaurant tax revenues.
“This is a business we have faith in,” he said.
The total cost of the Lassen’s project is more than $1.1 million. Vander Woude said the village’s investment, about 18 percent, is within the acceptable public-to-private ratio and is comparable to arrangements the village has made with other businesses.