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Homewood Village Board to Vote on Downtown Public Space Project

Talks continue for a downtown plaza near upcoming hotel La Banque. Trustees Tuesday will consider which—if any—plan to pursue.

Visions of an open, public space in downtown Homewood might soon become a reality. 

Homewood trustees Tuesday will vote on whether to move forward with plans to create a plaza near incoming boutique hotel  "La Banque."

A design firm has fleshed out options for two main locations for the new public space: the stretch of Martin Avenue north of Ridge (extending to Village Hall) and the stretch of Martin Avenue just south of Ridge (extending to the Gottschalk House). Both are likely to incorporate features ranging from a splash pad to outdoor fireplaces, public seating and Tivoli lights. 

The project, with all the bells and whistles, could possibly cost the village up to $700,000. Village officials 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 at an earlier meeting. 

But trustee Anne Colton said moving forward with the project might be premature. Homewood has previously extended a sizable chunk of TIF funds to hotel owner Dr. Claude Gendreau.

"We've already invested $900,000 in public funds," Colton said. "I want to see some results first. I want to make sure this is a successful venture."

Since first broaching the idea in Fall 2013, the village has moved quickly with the concept. The Lakota Group design firm of Chicago conducted a site analysis of Homewood's central business district for the possible plaza location. Colton is not convinced the space is in high demand, citing two parks within blocks of the space, which sit relatively unused. 

"I think we should take advantage of spaces that already exist," she said. 

The board meets Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., 2020 Chestnut Road. 

Hernendo RevolveR February 10, 2014 at 11:10 PM
Why don't they spend the money on something that would provide immediate benefits such as additional parking across the street from Trader Joe's at 183rd and Dixie.
Dawn February 11, 2014 at 09:33 AM
There are so many things Homewood needs more than this. We already have public parks. It's sickening that they've already spent $900,000 on this hotel nonsense. A $700,000 park? Please stop and take a look at what our community really needs.
BlackHawks Fan February 11, 2014 at 11:25 AM
This park doesn’t make any sense at all. Is this the Village board’s way of telling us they cannot bring any businesses to downtown Homewood? How will it bring in revenue? I hope that Hofeld and the board will wake up and quit spending our money frivolously. We don’t need another park we need businesses that generate sales tax income.
Genvieve LaChappele February 11, 2014 at 12:26 PM
and jobs!
Wags69 February 11, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Making the downtown a more attractive place for people to spend time will bring people to the downtown and therefore bring businesses to the downtown (and, as a result, generate sales tax income). The downtown area is a tremendous asset -- it connects us to the region through the train station, it has nice buildings with some great businesses and space for many more, and it is a walkable distance to many other important community resources (e.g., the library, Irwin Park). We all know that there are too many empty store fronts but complaining about it is not going encourage business to open in these spaces (in fact, it would probably discourage people from taking the risk of opening businesses there). The proposed plazas would be a good investment in the downtown. I support it 100%.
John February 11, 2014 at 01:13 PM
Stop wasting our money on designs from the Lakota Group & go buy some salt!!!!
Genvieve LaChappele February 11, 2014 at 01:15 PM
What he said!
John56 February 11, 2014 at 03:33 PM
I think its all right and part of the Village Boards responsibility to look at projects that might benefit our town such as this one. While it might be a nice upgrade to the area I think Anne Colton has the right idea. We need a more thorough assessment to determine whether the public will actually come to this public space and support the local businesses. I have my doubts. Kind of a Catch 22 when there aren't more than a handful of supportable downtown businesses to begin with.
Kim O'Lone February 11, 2014 at 06:34 PM
I think we need more time to consider this. If I understand the funding correctly, it is coming from an expiring TIF. If the Village does not vote to spend the money, the funds will go to not only the Village but other taxing bodies such as the Library and School Districts 153 and 233. I think we need more information and to hear from the other taxing bodies before a decision is made. Its not park or no park, it's park or school and library funding, and that is a difficult and important choice that deserves debate.
Kate Duff February 12, 2014 at 12:06 AM
It was great to see so many residents who came to tonight's Village Board meeting to share their thoughts, both pro and con, on the proposed plaza project. Democracy in action! I hope the folks who have expressed the strongest opinions on this and earlier threads were among them -- it's hard to tell when you only know screen names.
BlackHawks Fan February 13, 2014 at 10:24 PM
Until the citizens of Homewood actually go out and vote for a change we will have the same elected officials and the same outcome. A very small percentage of people actually vote in elections so the village and school board machines keep putting in who they want. They will continue to make bad decisions and keep wasting our money on what they want. Please wake up people.
Vernon Cherrywood April 12, 2014 at 07:59 PM
I LOVE THIS PLAN! All you bitching and moaning don't see the big picture of attracting people to Downtown- INCREASING village tax dollars, business investment, and the whole local economy. Thank you HOMEWOOD VILLAGE BOARD for seeing the FUTURE!!!

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