Vice District Brewing is officially leaving Homewood, owner Curtis Tarver II confirmed in an email to The Chronicle.
“We are eternally grateful for the support of the Homewood community and look forward to selling the building so hopefully a more ideal partner is able to come in and work with the village,” Tarver said.
The microbrewery closed its taproom over the summer, using the Homewood location only for distribution. An auction of brewing equipment, furniture and electronics from will take place at 10 a.m. Dec. 17 on the property at 18027 Dixie Highway.
Vice District struggled to get the store open from the beginning.
Non-TIF business incentive funds totaling $100,000 were approved in Sept. 2016 to ease the brewery’s construction costs. That money came with the stipulation that work must be completed within six months, but extensions were granted in March 2017 and June 2018. Carver cited permitting issues for some of the delay. Vice District opened in summer 2018.
Homewood Village Manager Jim Marino said the village is considering its options for recovering some of that money.
The incentive funding was to be disbursed incrementally. Tarver said he approached the village about getting the last $20,000 in 2019, rather than receiving $10,000 this year and another $10,000 next year. He said Homewood denied his request and asked him to do additional work to the property.
“Those after-the-fact requirements cost us an additional nearly $50,000. In addition to that, things like requiring a sprinkler system throughout the space although 85 percent of it was dedicated to stainless steel tanks and brewing made the initial budget to build the space out disappear,” Tarver said.
“From a financial perspective if we received the full $150,000 we initially requested from the village it would have covered our buildout as well as their after the fact requirements. Nonetheless, in the end, we never gained the traction we needed to from a revenue perspective to support Homewood.”
Vice District was closed in October 2018 for plumbing and fire suppression code violations.
“I don’t agree with (Tarver’s) allegations,” Marino said. “We were very accommodating to Vice District and helped them out as much as we could. Any buildout requirements were necessary to meet the building and fire safety codes. We were prepared to give them the additional money they requested but they failed to provide us with the necessary paperwork to advance the money.
“They also did not meet all the requirements for a liquor license and liquor managers. We were sorry to learn they could not remain open.”
Tarver, who also represents the 25th Illinois House district as a Democrat in the state General Assembly, criticized Homewood policy about liquor licensing and video gambling regulations. Village code only allows businesses which had liquor licenses when video gambling was made legal in 2009 to be permitted for machines.
“(Homewood) essentially protects the market for the handful of places that would have had a license 10 years ago and prevents anyone else from generating revenue in that regard. It drives the price up of any existing business that has the ability while depressing the values of other businesses. That hurt us as well as other businesses,” Tarver said.
“This is certainly something that we need to look into in Springfield especially as Homewood vies for a casino license.”
This fall, Homewood and East Hazel Crest jointly submitted a proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board for a new south suburban casino.