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Homewood takes steps to pave way for downtown redevelopment

A major redevelopment project proposed for Ridge Road in downtown Homewood moved three steps forward in its preliminary planning at the Nov. 8 village board meeting.

Homewood trustees agreed to streamline a property transaction, pursue the feasibility and establishment of a tax increment financing (TIF) district as recommended and approve a budget amendment to finance the study.

“I think everyone is excited about what is happening in our downtown, and there is more to come,” Village President Richard Hofeld said following the unanimous approvals on the three issues.

Trustee Anne Colton agreed.

“I am excited about the aggressive efforts to develop this project. Everyone will benefit if it goes through,” she said.

In addition to the village, the key players in the proposed Triumph Redevelopment Project include Synergy Real Property Holdings, LLC, representing the Funk Hall property at 2049-2051 Ridge Road; Third Coast Development, the developer, and SB Friedman Development Advisors, the TIF analyst group.

The project is located at the intersection of Ridge Road and Martin Avenue. The proposed development plan presented by Third Coast Development features Transit Oriented Development (TOD) elements.

Third Coast also has a contract to buy the Triumph Building at 2033 Ridge Road. The firm plans to demolish both the Triumph and Funk buildings and build 36 residential rental units and approximately 12,500 square feet of first-floor retail space in a three-story new-construction building.

One of the key elements in the project is the purchase of Funk Hall. In September the trustees approved a contract to purchase the building for $291,000. The village’s intent was to sell the property to Third Coast Development immediately upon closing.

However, according to Tom Vander Woude, Homewood’s director of economic and community development, First Midwest Bank agreed to allow the village to assign its rights to purchase the property to Third Coast Development.

Based on the recommendation, he requested a resolution to approve the assignment of the purchase and sale agreement between the village and Synergy Real Property Holdings LLC. The request was unanimously approved by the board.

“Assignment of the contract was recommended because it simplifies the transaction, eliminates the need for the village to float the $291,000 or pay closing costs and allows Third Coast to a acquire the property at the discounted price of $291,000 that had been negotiated by the village,” said Vander Woude. 

The second board approval on the redevelopment project was an amendment to the village budget in the amount of $26,060 to fund additional consulting services for SB Freidman to develop a new TIF district in downtown Homewood.

The village originally contracted with SB Freidman in August, at a cost of $83,750, based on their knowledge on downtown redevelopment and financing alternatives for projects. A budget amendment was approved for its services at that time.

Dennis Bubenik, the village’s finance director, told the board that the service to set up the downtown TIF was not part of the 2016-17 budget so an amendment in the amount of $26,060 was needed.

“This would result in an amended budget of $124,810,” Bubenik said.

The board’s third step in the process on Nov. 8 was authorizing Hofeld to enter into an agreement between the village and SB Friedman Development Advisors for consulting services to establish the downtown TIF District in an amount not to exceed $26,060.

As explained by Vander Woude, the purpose of this TIF is to provide a flexible mechanism for incentivizing transit-oriented development and financing improvements to the Metra and Amtrak stations which would be included in the proposed TIF district.

The proposed boundaries of the TIF district, as presented by SB Freidman, are: Dixie Highway on the east and south to Olive Road (which includes the former Savoia property) west to Park Avenue and north to Pine Road. The LaBanque Hotel, including the La Voute Bistro & Bar area, will not be part of the TIF District.

Vander Woude added that SB Freidman, in its capacity as development advisor, conducted a preliminary review of Third Coast Development’s proposal to redevelop the Triumph property and 2049-2051 Ridge Road. Their analysis determined that, without financial assistance, the project does not appear to be financially feasible and would be unlikely to move forward.

“It is important for us to know the incentives that may be available so we can negotiate effectively with Third Coast Development on the redevelopment agreement,” said Vander Woude.

He pointed out that the first step in the contract with SB Freidman is to determine if the area is eligible as a redevelopment project area, i.e., meeting the criteria such as deterioration, excessive vacancy, blight and evidence that “but for” assistance from a TIF, redevelopment cannot occur.

The contract also states that if it is determined that the proposed area is not eligible to be determined a TIF District, SB Freidman’s work will stop.

Vander Woude said he hopes the TIF district can be established by May 2017.

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