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Homewood trustees greenlight downtown redevelopment project

Architectural drawings show the north and   east views of the proposed mixed-use develop   slated to replace the Triumph Building in   downtown Homewood. (Provided image)

Downtown Homewood will undergo a transformation in 2020 after village trustees approved three measures Monday that enable a proposed redevelopment plan to proceed.

HCF Homewood LLC plans to demolish the one-story Triumph Building at 2033 Ridge Road and will replace it with a four-story mixed-use structure that will contain a 5,800 square-foot first floor space to be used as a restaurant or for retail, 18 hotel rooms associated with La Banque Hotel on the second floor and 24 apartments on the third and fourth floors. 

Trustees voted to approve a special use permit to allow hotel rooms to be included in the proposed structure. 

The board also approved a resolution supporting the developer’s application for Class 8 property tax relief from Cook County and a redevelopment agreement between the village and HCF Homewood.

The redevelopment plan was approved in August by the Homewood Planning & Zoning Commission and in September by the Appearance Commission. 

Representing HCF Homewood at the meeting were partners Tim Flanagan and Robert Hansen. The conceptual designs were presented by Jon Murawski, representing architectural firm Robert, Juris & Associates.

Murawski said architectural details will evoke early- to mid-20th century features in order to tie in with existing buildings downtown. 

He said the plan includes commissioning murals for parts of the exterior in keeping with Homewood’s public art tradition. The details of who will create the murals is still being considered.

The building will include 32 parking spaces for the apartments. Twelve spaces will be within the building with an entrance off of Martin Avenue. Twenty spaces will be outside, including the current public parking lot on the south side of the development. The open route between the public lot and commercial lots to the west will be closed, according to current plans.

The fire pit adjacent to the public parking lot will not be affected by the project.

Hotel parking will be in the existing La Banque lot on Chestnut Road. The hotel currently meets village code and has a surplus of parking spaces, so it will not need to request a variance, according to Economic Development Director Angela Mesaros.

Restaurant or retail patrons will use public parking in the downtown area. When the plans were presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission in August, members questioned how well that would work, and Mesaros said options for shared parking agreements or valet parking would be explored.

Construction is expected to take 12 to 14 months. The developers said they hope to break ground in mid-April.

Now that the project has received village approval, Flanagan said the search for a restaurant will begin in earnest. Trustees offered suggestions, with several urging a seafood establishment and one voting for a steak house.

Flanagan said the partners have done a preliminary study of potential restaurants.

“We have a good pool to market to,” Flanagan said. He agreed with Trustee Jay Heiferman that the choice of restaurant would help set the tone for the project.

Flanagan said the apartments would include studios, singles and doubles, with rents tentatively set at between $1,200 and $1,650 per month.

Trustees voted unanimously to approve the project and expressed enthusiastic support for it.

“I like that you looked to the architecture of the downtown area and integrated that into the plan,” Trustee Barbara Dawkins said. “You really looked at our town and our values and brought us a very thoughtful design.”

The site has been the focus of redevelopment efforts for several years. 

In 2016, Third Coast Developers proposed a three-story residential and retail project, but the deal to purchase the building from former owner Josephine Triumph fell through in January 2017. 

That project, though shorter by one story, would have had a larger footprint because it would have included property to the west of the Triumph Building currently occupied by Loulou Belle boutique and Artistix salon. 

The village purchased the building from Triumph in May 2018 for $660,000 and agreed in May to sell it to HCF Homewood for $1. Village officials said at the time that sales and property taxes are expected to cover the financial incentives offered as part of the redevelopment effort. 

In other business, the board also approved:

  • An ordinance authorizing Public Works to inspect illegal tie-ins on private property that put groundwater and storm water into the village sewer system and gives the village the ability to suspend sewer and water services to properties with the illegal connections. 
  • A resolution appropriating $100,000 for purchasing rock salt to use on streets during winter months.
  • A liquor license for Culture Food and Entertainment Group.
  • A raffle license for Glenwood Academy to operate a Queen of Hearts raffle in Homewood which included an extension of the time limit from the usual 90 days to one year and an increase in the prize value cap from $5,000 to $2 million. Drawings will occur weekly beginning Dec. 11 at Fifth Quarter, 18105 Dixie Highway.

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