Homewood trustees approved the first step of many in a proposed new downtown business plaza development during Tuesday night's village board meeting.
Among other things, the proposed plaza will serve as a complement to Homewood's upcoming boutique hotel, "La Banque." Village officials also hope the development will increase local retail traffic and revenue and provide an economic return to the village.
"The idea is to develop a heart—a gathering place for the town," Community Development Director Paula Wallrich said.
The board voted to give $15,750 to The Lakota Group design firm of Chicago to do a site analysis of Homewood's central business district for a possible plaza location. The village already has an affiliation with the company, having previously contracted them to design the current downtown master plan.
The Lakota Group is also responsible for projects such as Lockport Street in Plainfield and Marion Street in Oak Park. Both of which are two examples of projects that have substantially increased local retailer traffic and revenue, according to Zac McConnell, project manager at Lakota.
Homewood has already budgeted $500,000 for the anticipated development, but there is no indication yet how much the final development will actually cost. If all goes smoothly, staff may present a design plan as early as December, according to Community Development Director Paula Wallrich.
While most board members embraced the new idea, trustee Anne Colton said she's concerned that the timing might not be right for such a big decision.
"We're already invested $900k of public funds in the hotel," Colton said. "Let's see how things go before we put any more in."
Despite Colton's "no" on the issue, the vote passed with all other trustees voting "yes," except for Tom Kataras, who was absent.