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New Village Sign; Aurelio's to Drop Al Fresco: On the Agenda

A preview of what's going to be discussed and voted on during Homewood's Aug. 27 village board meeting.

Homewood Village President Richard Hofeld and the village trustees will meet at  on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Liquor License Request from Chipotle

The soon-to-be Halsted Chipotle location is requesting an additional class 5 liquor license be created for their restaurant. The popular fast food chain is known for selling beer and margaritas along with their staple burritos in many locations.

New Village Marquee Sign

Trustees will be voting on the expenditure of $21,690.87 for a new electronic marquee sign from All Right Sign of Steger. The sign is intended to replace the current village sign at the corner of Dixie Highway and Chestnut Rd. 

$5 Thousand 183rd Street Fence Replacement

$4,850.00 is being requested from a fire department equipment fund to the 183rd Street fence fund. According to the agenda, the money will be used to replace the fence along the south side of 183rd Street, west of the viaduct.

Go Green and Façade Improvement Tax Incentive Money for Aurelio's

The trustees will consider a request from owner Joe Aurelio for $142,043.00 through the Façade and Property Improvement Program and the Go Green Reward Program. Aurelio is asking for the money to help finance an enclosed addition to his Homewood restaurant in the place of the current outdoor dining section along the south end of the building.

Heidi Heilman August 28, 2012 at 05:22 PM
The no free refill and the fact that they have cut back considerably on available coupons seems "penny wise and dollar foolish" for Aurelios. They should pay for their own addition.
Jason Hitchens August 28, 2012 at 05:27 PM
The current sign seems fine especially in this economy. But layoff Aurelio's. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful business in this town. They employ over a hundred people here in Homewood. From mothers who waitress to support their families, delivery drivers, cooks, and all the kids who have worked there through high school and college. We should be happy they are expanding and will be able to have larger functions and contribute more tax revenue to the village. Aurelios has been incredibly generous to this community. From fundraisers, to sponsorships to little league, soccer teams, volleyball teams and other non profits. They donated the entire proceeds from their brick program to the Cancer Support Center in Homewood. Dawn don't make personal, they are a wonderful family and business!
Chester Rook August 28, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I do believe as Village Board members they have to live in the village. So, technically, they too are tax payers and the money is also theirs. That being said, I agree with everything else Juan said 100%.
Juan Macillery August 28, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Your missing the boat on the whole situation. These monies should be used to help struggling businesses and infrastructure in the community. Last time I checked, the pizza place is doing well, and I don't believe their existing structure is hindering their business. It has nothing to do with how nice the family is or how much they donate. Let's be real people!
HF Resident August 28, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Mr. Munrone, I agree that Aurelios has been good to the community, but also remember that the community has been exceptionally good to them. In my opinion, all of the things that they have done should not be a reason to give them valuable community resources. Also, you say not to make it personal, but your comment about them being a "wonderful family" makes it seem that you do have a vested interest.
T'sMom August 28, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I agree with June, WA Mama, Querty & Juan. Too much of our Homewood taxpayer's dollars goes toward careless spending. I wonder if Homewood Village Board Members or the Village President ever read the comments on this site? If they would,they would see how unhappy their constituents feel about these situations. Most of the taxpayer's are very unhappy with their spending habits. As per the comment regarding going to board meetings, I for one am too busy working 2 part-time jobs to pay my taxes and other expenses to live in Homewood. Plus in the past, I have been to the board meetings, if you're not for what's on their agenda for that night, they pretty much don't want to hear from you, it's like make it quick, the attitude is "just give us your tax dollars and shut up" is their reaction I've experienced. I can't believe how they can just spend, spend in this economy.
Jason Hitchens August 28, 2012 at 07:12 PM
HF Resident good point about making it personal. I guess I was offended by Dawn's remarks about him cutting back on his lifestyle. I find that comment ignorant. The many people who have gone to Aurelios for years know the family, because it is a FAMILY business. I am proud that the original Aurelios was founded and remains here in Homewood. By the way I also enjoy Mama and Me!
Jason Hitchens August 28, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I guess no one read Kirk's comment about TIF. Other businesses are welcome to apply for TIF money! I will copy Kirk's info and post again. One tool successfully in use in Illinois and 48 other states to meet this economic development challenge is Tax Increment Financing: or TIF. With this development tool, financially strapped local governments can make the improvements they need, like new roads or sewers, and provide incentives to attract new businesses or help existing businesses stay and expand. And TIF does this without tapping into general municipal revenues or raising taxes. TIF projects also help retain existing businesses that might consider relocating away from declining areas. These jobs and investment — public and private — mean more revenue to help a community meet its other needs. As a result, the community as a whole, not just the area targeted for TIF revenues, improves. (credit: www.illinois-tif.com)
HF Resident August 28, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I would, but it conflicts with Trivia night at Lassens
Kate Duff August 28, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Hmm. The Cottage got TIF funds, and people complained that the business owners have no experience. Grapes & Grain got TIF funds, and people complained that the business owner wasn't experienced enough. Aurelio's applies for TIF funds, and we're complaining that the business owners are too experienced. Just wondering who's left to qualify...
Don Mastery August 28, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I don't think Aurelios is in a TIF district, I think this is a business incentive.
Kate Duff August 28, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Don, I think Aurelio's must be, as both the Facade Improvement & Go Green programs are specifically aimed at properties located in TIF districts: http://tinyurl.com/9rlhp6x
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Editor) August 28, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Aurelio's IS within a TIF district, which is why they are eligible for this money. Also, for what it's worth, I can think of few recent new village developments that haven't reached out for economic incentive money. Twisted Q, Good Life Cafe, Grapes & Grain, The Cottage on Dixie, Allied Realty, Global Fusion, plenty of land developers—the list of (recent) tax incentive money recipients goes on and on.
Mary-Jo August 28, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I love Aurelio's, but I think giving tax incentives or grants to The Cottage is about attracting new businesses. I have to agree with the majority here (and again, I stress...I LOVE Aurelio's), I'd vote again giving them funds of that size. They are a valued and appreciated Homewood institution and if they were in trouble of closing, I might feel differently, but they are receiving sizeable franchise fees from Aurelio's outposts around the country. THis $140K could be better spent on helping a new small business get on it's feet.
Nate Olson August 28, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I was going to say the same thing. This is a great forum to discuss the issues but you can't really complain about what the board decides if you don't go to the meetings. Unless of course the board members read the Patch. :)
June Whitehand August 28, 2012 at 10:09 PM
It is the amount of money going into specific businesses, it is not really about the businesses themselves, but money that could possibly be used for other purposes that benefit the community as a whole. Have all the TIF funds that the school and library districts missed out on been refunded to those organizations?
June Whitehand August 28, 2012 at 10:13 PM
That is a great question, I'm sure Joe will happily use local contractors whenever possible. I would love to see that be part of the report that should be coming back to the village when ever TIF dollars are given to a business.
Nate Olson August 28, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I think the Aurelious issue boils down to how the program was setup. If the board intended the funds to only go to those businesses showing signs of economic difficulty, or only to new business' then Aurelios won't qualify. Otherwise as a business person why would you NOT apply for any and all funds that are available to you from all sources? If the intention of the program was to invest in Homewood business who are expanding or beautifying their properties with the ultimate goal of increasing their revenues than it shouldn't matter who the business is that gets the funds. Which business has the better chance of creating more revenue with the $142k? A start-up business in one of the vacant store fronts, or one of the most established companies in town that would not be making this improvement if they didn't think it would be a money making proposition? I would say the later. I'm not sure how you quantify how much a table at aurelios makes in a given day, but if you consider that what they are doing is basically doubling the number of days a year they can use all the tables in the current patio I would think that the potential ROI is huge. This money comes back to the village in the form of additional sales tax, additional employee wages, additional donations back to the community, etc etc. Just my 2 cents.
June Whitehand August 28, 2012 at 10:21 PM
I feel the "...on and on..." character of the list is what is starting to alarm citizens.
Robin Mcelligott August 29, 2012 at 03:19 PM
When you think Pizza you think Aurellios. TIFF MONEY IS THERE FOR THE BUSINESS PEOPLE TO USE. Let's think of how much Tiff money was given out to business that have come and failed? I would much rather give back to a successful business who has done so much for the community and has every intention to continue to give back to the community. We are not taking a chance on them they have proven themselves. Great Pizza, Great service, Great environment and is a source of income for many homewood residents. No matter where you go and what Aurellios you go to I am proud to say that I grew up on HOMEWOOD Aurellios. I grew up playing softball down at the best ball field in the world. And I was so proud to be on the Aurellios team, that was many years ago but you can still go down to the ball filed and see Aurellios on the back of a Jersey. I say Aurellios is Homewood and let's keep this "Legend" in the town. How many people have moved out of the area. But when they come back to visit where is the first place the go. Aurellios it's the true meaning of coming back home for dinner...
SouthSide August 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Support your local businesses!
Kate Duff August 29, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I agree. The two programs were not set up solely for new/struggling businesses (the Village has at least one other incentive program that is aimed at new businesses). I personally am glad that the Village Board is using TIFF funds to support a variety of businesses. But TIFF funding is based on a projected gain in property & sales tax revenue due to the investment. So if we wanted the Board to apply the most conservative, low-risk approach to distributing the funds, then it would make sense for them to invest only in those businesses with the best track records of maintaining their properties and generating tax revenue. It seems to me that as a successful chain, Aurelio's could meet its need for banquet facilities by expanding in a number of different locations -- but they're choosing to do so in Homewood, and that means something. And since the programs will only pay up to 50% of the costs, that means Aurelio's is putting at least $142,043 of their own money toward the renovations. The total price tag on these big renos always makes me gulp a little, but it's not being borne solely (or even mostly) by the Village. As for the suggestions that the money should be spent elsewhere -- on cutting down dead trees or whatever -- these are dedicated funds. I wouldn't be comfortable with a setup that would allow the Village Board to take funds out of one pot and apply them willy-nilly elsewhere -- can you imagine the sort of abuse that would allow?
Simone August 29, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I vote to let Joe pay for his own renovation - it is his property, his business and his responsibility. No one helps residents when repairs are needed for ones home and grants are no longer offered (last I heard). I pay out of pocket for my renovations and up keep; Joe should pay his own tab. Homewood has enough expenses including removing all of these dead trees which I am told has been put on hold due to lack of funds. Isn't Homewood also looking at repairing water/sewer lines? Maybe the pizza fund can go towards something Homewood really needs. How about making repairs to the metra station or adding street lights (as someone else commented). I don't go to Aurelio's but if I did I would surely stop.
DiLy August 29, 2012 at 08:54 PM
If there are Tiff funds to be had for facade improvement, why has no one approached Little Tokyo on Ridge about their lack of a sign? I have to imagine it hurts their business when you can't even tell that the space is occupied. Also, it makes the downtown area appear even more empty and destitute than it already is. Little Tokyo (I’m assuming that is still the name since they moved) appears to be much more in need of help than Aurelios. Little Tokyo is also a business that is loyal to Homewood and no one even knows they are still here! On another note, does anyone have any info on the storefront that used to be Super Loot? It seemed as if there was some work done and then it just stopped. Now, it’s just an eyesore with the ripped up paper covering the windows. Adds to the dilapidated look of downtown Homewood.
Nate Olson August 30, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Good point about Little Tokyo. But I think they need more help than just a sign unfortunately. However I would guess the reason they haven't asked for TIFF funds has to do with the 50/50 split noted above by Kate. If the owner can't come up with his half of the funds for the project then he can't qualify for the assistance through the program.
Mike August 30, 2012 at 02:48 PM
At least Kate Duff seems to get it. Now, let's put this to bed by learning what a TIF actually is and where that money comes from (note that your property taxes AREN'T directly paying for these renovations nor will they be increased to help pay for these investments). Also, note that these funds are not specifically for businesses that need financial help like so many of you believe. Now, read this before you comment; http://www.illinois-tif.com/about_TIF.asp Now that we all see how this works, I think you'll agree that Aurelio's is probably the safest investment that Homewood can make.
babyboomer September 02, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I agree, however, I don't think either business should get village money. I don't even like Aurelio's pizza!!
T'sMom September 07, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I recently (about a week) read in the Southtown Star regarding this recent TIF money given to Aurelio's from the village, In this article it states this is the 3rd time they are receiving TIF money from the Village of Homewood. Why has Aurelio's received TIF money 3 times from the Village of Homewood? Don't you think there should be a limit on how many times a business can receive these TIF's? Just curious. From www.illinois-tif.com/about_TIF.asp, it states: "TIF funds may be used for costs associated with the development or redevelopment of property within the TIF, allowing blighted, declining and underperforming areas to again become viable, and allowing these areas to compete with vacant land at the edge of urban areas." Is Aurelio's property "within the TIF, allowing blighted, declining and underperforming areas to again become viable?" I don't think so and if this is the reason the TIF was given & what the village thinks I guess we all should start looking for a better area to live in if we live in such blighted, declining and underperforming area. I agree with Simone, plus where's our incentive to stay in the community that doesn't help residents/taxpayers with their "renos," aren't we a safe investment (like Aurelio's) for Homewood and don't we contribute yearly towards their Homewood tax dollars for too.
Mike September 07, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Yes, you are citing one intended use for the TIF funds. However, if you read the entire link that you posted, you'll also see that "TIF projects also help retain existing businesses that might consider relocating away from declining areas. These jobs and investment — public and private — mean more revenue to help a community meet its other needs." Sadly, we do live in a declining and underperforming area; most of Main St. USA does. You neglected to cite the positives mentioned in that Southtown Star article - the project will provide jobs for 75 tradesmen, the hiring of more Aurelio's employees and provide more work hours for the existing employees. Also, Joe Aurelio knows his business best and when he says that a banquet room is needed and will provide additional tax revenue, these gains are all part of Homewood's return on investment. They will certainly re-coop the $142k of TIF money invested. You're correct in that there should be a limit on TIF requests. The village has since passed an ordinance in 2008 that limits the requests to one. Aurelio's received $36k in 2000 and $80,000 in 2006. Since those benefits happened prior to 2008, they are allowed this one more request.
babyboomer September 07, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Speaking of TIF money, why is Bogarts closing?

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