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Homewood approves redevelopment agreement with Wind Creek as casino buildings rise

The Homewood Village Board on Tuesday, June 27, passed a resolution to approve a redevelopment agreement with Wind Creek Hospitality and East Hazel Crest on the construction of a casino, hotel, parking structure and related infrastructure. 

Construction proceeds on the Wind Creek Casino parking garage in Homewood on June 30.
(Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The south suburban casino project has been in the works for more than a decade. Wind Creek won preliminary approval for the license in December 2021. Officials from Wind Creek and the two villages broke ground in June 2022. The casino development is located partially in East Hazel Crest and partially in Homewood at 174th and Halsted Streets.

The redevelopment agreement includes a special tax increment financing arrangement on the Homewood side, a kind of TIF subdistrict, according to Homewood Village Manager Napoleon Haney. 

Homewood’s Northeast TIF District includes the Wind Creek property, restaurants at the intersection of 175th and Halsted, and along the south side of 175th Street from Halsted to the Homewood Disposal headquarters building.

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But the redevelopment agreement with Wind Creek will operate separately from the rest of the Northeast TIF District, Haney said. 

TIF districts fund redevelopment projects by freezing equalized assessed valuation of properties in the district, so taxing bodies continue to receive revenue calculated on the base rate. As the EAV rises, the difference between the new rate and the base rate goes into the TIF fund to pay for qualified redevelopment costs.

The skeleton of the casino building as seen on June 30. The casino is on the East Hazel Crest side of the site.
(Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The casino TIF in Homewood will establish its base rate when the parking garage being constructed on Homewood property is completed. The base rate for the rest of the Northeast TIF District was established when the district was created in 2015.

Haney also noted that “if the casino and parking garage do not generate sufficient incremental property taxes to reimburse the developer’s TIF eligible expenses, neither village is obligated to make up this shortfall from incremental tax revenues generated by other properties within each TIF.”

Both municipalities have agreed to enter into a comprehensive joint redevelopment agreement with Wind Creek to ensure the completion of the casino development. This collaborative effort by the villages allows the casino operator to apply for TIF reimbursement for eligible development costs. 

Homewood and East Hazel Crest share the 24-acre site, and they have been working together since November 2012, when an intergovernmental agreement was signed. The villages passed necessary ordinances on July 28, 2015, to establish the Halsted Redevelopment Project Areas in East Hazel Crest and the Northeast Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Project Area in Homewood. 

The signing of the state’s gambling expansion bill by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2019 opened the door for additional gaming licenses, one of which was guaranteed for South Suburban Cook County. The Illinois Gaming Board granted a “preliminary suitability” finding for the new south suburban casino license on Dec. 8, 2021, after a lengthy application review period exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The $440 million Wind Creek Chicago Southland Casino will feature a gaming floor, offices and employee operations. The casino also will have a 75,000 square foot, two-level entertainment venue adjacent to the main gaming floor. 

The 16-story hotel will have 252 rooms, a skyline lounge, indoor pool, spa, convention center, retail space and parking. 

According to the redevelopment agreement, both municipalities have agreed to share 95% of the incremental property taxes generated by their respective portions of the project with Wind Creek. East Hazel Crest will share 95% of the incremental property taxes the casino and hotel generate. Homewood will share 95% of the incremental property taxes generated by the parking garage.

Each village will retain 5% of the increment to help pay for additional municipal service needs generated by the casino, according to Haney. 

To further support the project, Wind Creek intends to apply for a Cook County Class 8 Tax Incentive, supported by both the village of Homewood and the Cook County Assessor’s Office. This incentive will allow the casino project’s buildings to be assessed at lower rates, resulting in significant tax savings over a 10- to 12-year period.

As part of the project, revenue sharing agreements have been established, with 42 south suburban communities receiving 3% of the adjusted gross receipts, with Homewood and East Hazel Crest receiving an additional share. 

The Southland Public Benefits Fund, created in collaboration with Homewood and East Hazel Crest, will award $150,000 in scholarships to disadvantaged students in the region each year and support healthcare services through various local partnerships. Once the benefits fund reaches $20 million, the annual scholarship distribution will increase from $150,000 to $1 million.

The resolution and redevelopment agreement’s approval marked the final stages of the redevelopment process, solidifying Homewood’s obligations and allowing the revenue sharing and incentive components of the development project to be finalized.

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