Business, Local News

Homewood board inks deal with national apparel firm

A long vacant village-owned lot on 175th Street in Homewood will be the site of a new development next year as Apparel Redefined has agreed to move its headquarters and operations from Crestwood to Homewood.

The company produces custom silk screening and embroidery products for local schools, small businesses and major league teams nationwide. The company and the village entered into a letter of intent for the deal in June.

The relocation will bring about 60 jobs to Homewood, and the company’s expansion plans could double or possibly triple the staff in coming years, according to owner and CEO John LaRoy.

The building in the background, 1313 175th St., is slated to be renovated and will serve as Apparel Redefined’s headquarters.
The land in the foreground, 1351 175th St., will be the site of production facilities. (Eric Crump photos/H-F Chronicle)

The village trustees approved four measures at the Tuesday, Oct. 24, meeting that complete the deal: the purchase of the property at 1313 175th St.; a redevelopment agreement with the company that includes selling 1313 and 1351 175th St. to Apparel Redefined; and recommendations for two Cook County Class 8 property tax relief designations, one for each address.

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The village purchased 1313 175th St. because the company needed six acres to accommodate its expansion plans, and the village-owned lot adjacent to the west was only four acres. The building at 1313 175th St. will be renovated and used as the company’s headquarters.

The village agreed to purchase the building for $415,000 and will sell it to the company for $1.

The company plans eventually to build more than 92,000 square feet of production space on the four-acre lot. The first phase of production development will be a nearly 46,000 square foot building on the east side of the lot, LaRoy said.

Apparel Redefined owner John LaRoy addresses the Homewood
Board of Trustees.

“This is a good size for us to be able to comfortably stay for the long haul and take our operation to the next level,” he said.

LaRoy hopes to be able to add a second building, which would be the same size as the first, in four or five years, depending on economic and market conditions.

Trustees expressed strong support for the project. Trustee Anne Colton acknowledged that she has concerns about the future of the 175th Street corridor, especially its dependence on office space, but she said this project is an exception. 

She said she was impressed with the company’s plans and vision.

“This is what Homewood needs. This is our future,” she said. 
Mayor Rich Hofeld also said the project was a good fit for the village.

“Over the years, we’ve had a number of inquiries for that four-acre parcel, all of which were higher intensity, mostly involving trucking and uses that would not be compatible with the adjacent Izaak Walton Preserve,” he said. “Your use is a low intensity use. You’re respectful of the preserve, and I respect you for that. Welcome to Homewood.”

In addition to the Class 8 property tax incentives, the project will use funds from the Northeast Tax Increment Financing District, which was established in 2015, for expenses including job training, public infrastructure improvements, site preparation and renovations to the building at 1313 175th St. Qualified TIF expenses are estimated to be about $5 million over the course of the project. 

TIF funding will be capped at $5 million, but the actual amount will depend on TIF increment generated solely by the project, according to a memo to the board from Angela Mesaros, director of economic and community development.

The project will also include  $1,130,400 in expenses to account for “extraordinary soil conditions.” Much of the land in the Prairie Lakes Business Park, including this parcel, has a high water table, Mesaros said. The soil condition will require additional site preparation work. The developer will pay all the costs of building a normal slab foundation. The village will provide the additional funds to compensate for the additional site preparation work.

Mesaros said the village has compensated other developers in the business park for similar work. 

The money for that work also will be paid out of the TIF district fund, according to the redevelopment agreement. 

The district is expected to have adequate funds for the project. Earlier this year it had $2.7 million dollars in its fund, and it currently accrues about $750,000 per year, Mesaros said.

Village officials justify the incentives package as necessary to allow the village to compete with nearby sites in Northwest Indiana and Will County, where property taxes are as much as 45% less than in the South Suburbs.

The development will also return to the village tax rolls a property that has been vacant for more than 31 years.

The development will fill the final open space in the Prairie Lakes Business Park. The village purchased 178 acres of land in 1992 and the rest has been developed. 

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