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Homewood approves financial incentive for martini bar plumbing work

Copper Still Martini Bar and Grill is getting a financial boost from Homewood after village board members approved a $34,998 incentive request at their Jan. 24 meeting.
The Copper Still opened on Jan. 2 at 1961 Ridge Road. The business owners, Copper Still Entertainment Group, are leasing the property at that location. 
In a memo to the board, Village Manager Jim Marino stated that owners Dana McDermott and Christina D’Ambrosia requested the incentives to offset the estimated $150,000 cost of building out Copper Still Martini Bar and Lounge, an upscale cocktail lounge on the first floor, and Blind Tiger Speakeasy,  a concealed “speakeasy” in the building’s basement area.
Marino said that the staff was recommending approval of the amount of $34,998 from the Non-TIF (tax increment financing) Business Incentive Program to cover 50 percent of the cost for plumbing updates to accommodate retail beverage service, including underground plumbing, additional water lines, drains, venting and plumbing fixtures.
The building was most recently leased to Global Fusion for retail use which used the first floor. The basement area was not used in the operation. Before Global Fusion, the space was the longtime home of Three Brothers Restaurant.
Marino also reported that the Copper Still Entertainment Group has already made significant improvements to the building, including a bar, tables and seating for customers, décor, bathroom upgrades and secondary basement access.
Owner McDermott stated in a letter to the village that the estimated cost of the plumbing updates is $70,000. 
The Blind Tiger speakeasy portion in the basement is expected to open sometime this month.
Attorney David McDermott, representing the owners, said the process of opening the martini bar has been long and arduous, but very exciting.
“Our patrons seem very pleased with what we have done so far and they are already asking us when the downstairs will be complete,” he told trustees. 
 He added that the location on the southeast corner of Dixie Highway and Ridge Road is one of the oldest buildings in Homewood. The bulk of the work for the business revolved around the plumbing updates.
“We are hoping this assistance from the village will enable us to get the speakeasy open on schedule,” he said.
Responding to the request for assistance, Trustee Barbara Dawkins said, “What you are asking is very small compared to what you have spent on this project and this is an investment in the future of the village.”
Dawkins also said she had visited the business a couple of times since it opened and she was very pleased with its upscale décor and ambiance. 
The Copper Still Entertainment Group was originally located in Crestwood. That location was closed in June 2016. According to McDermott, the business has a proven record of attracting customers from throughout the Chicago area and out of state.
“By locating in Homewood we are providing a contemporary addition to the downtown area,” he said.
Projected sales for the first year are $700,000, he said. Sales at the martini bar and speakeasy will generate annual sales tax revenue to the village.
“This estimate is based on square footage and sales from the Crestwood location,” he said. “It also includes an increase in services offered due to the additional space and availability of features to be offered.”
Information provided by Marino indicates that the non-TIF Business Incentive Program was established to provide incentives to properties outside of a TIF district. The program mirrors the application and review protocols of the TIF incentive programs: Façade and Property Improvement, Go Green and Retail Enhancement.
The goals of these programs are to promote revitalization of properties, attract targeted types of retail businesses and assist with construction or upgrades to buildings with environmentally sustainable initiatives. 

These programs allow for reimbursement of up to 50 percent of the eligible costs. Combined, the three programs offer a maximum incentive of $40,000.

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