Opponents of industrial redevelopment of Calumet Country Club hoped the Forest Preserves might be persuaded to purchase the land, but a preserves official said it doesn't meet the criteria to be a high priority acquisition. (Chronicle file photo)
Feature

Forest Preserves District: Calumet Country Club not currently an acquisition priority

When Diversified Partners of Arizona first proposed replacing Calumet Country Club golf course with a warehousing facility in 2019, opponents of the development turned to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County in hopes the agency would acquire the property and develop it as greenspace.

Carl Vogel, FPDCC director of communications, said preserves officials took a look at the property but did not opt to pursue acquisition.

Opponents of industrial redevelopment of Calumet Country Club hoped the Forest Preserves might be persuaded to purchase the land, but a preserves official said it doesn't meet the criteria to be a high priority acquisition. (Chronicle file photo)
Opponents of industrial redevelopment of Calumet Country Club hoped the Forest Preserves might be persuaded to purchase the land, but a preserves official said it doesn’t meet the criteria to be a high priority acquisition. (Chronicle file photo)

“The Forest Preserves did evaluate Calumet Country Club as a potential acquisition in 2019 , when it was originally for sale,” Vogel said. “We determined that the site was not a priority.”

He listed several factors that informed the decisions.

If the district continued to operate the golf course, it would probably need to be subsidized and would require capital investment, he said. The property was on the market because the previous owners were losing money on operations.

The location was also deemed a problem for redevelopment as open space, because it is surrounded by development and is not connected to other Forest Preserves land.

“That leaves no options for future connections that benefit native plants and animals,” he said. “Considering the cost/benefits of the property and our limited available funding for adding new Forest Preserves property, we did not pursue the opportunity.”

Although the property does not meet the FPDCC criteria to be a high priority for acquisition, Vogel did not close the door entirely on the possibility.

The county has allocated American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to FPDCC, including support for the Southeast Land Acquisition Plan

“With this expanded capacity, we are currently in the initial stages of re-evaluating a number of deferred and lower-priority sites,” Vogel said.

He said the agency regularly receives land acquisition suggestions from the public and from local government officials. 

“We consider all of them, regardless of source, through our standard land acquisition opportunity evaluation process,” he said. “We prioritize acquisitions based on a number of factors, including the guidelines in our land acquisition plans, changing conditions and new opportunities.”

Calumet Country Club was part of Homewood when it was purchased by Diversified Partners in 2020. When village officials balked at the plan to convert it to industrial use, the previous owner, CCC Investors LLC successfully sued to have the property disconnected from the village. 

Currrently, the property is in unincorporated Cook County, but a new firm, Catalyst Consulting, has created a plan for a mixed use development on the site that would include warehousing, manufacturing, acquaponics farming, hospitality and other uses. The development would require the property to be annexed by Hazel Crest.

The Catalyst plan has not yet been submitted for review by Hazel Crest, but village officials and Catalyst representatives have held discussions about the possibility.

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