UPDATE: The $80,000 allowance of TIF funds was granted to Elridge & Elridge Dental Group in a 4-2 vote.
A controversial request by the new owners of the old "Tom's" restaurant for $80,000 in TIF funds has many Homewood residents stirred up. You can check the H-F Patch Facebook and H-F Patch comments sections for proof.
Here's what's going on live at the Tuesday, Sept. 10 Homewood village board meeting:
Comm. Development Director Paula Wallrich:
Eldridge's (new owners of old Tom's Restaurant) want to expand current Homewood dental business. Looking to hire 4 to 5 employees.
Originally asked for $200,000 in TIF funds.
Village government used previous TIF disbursement, such as Grape and Grain Co. And The Cottage On Dixie, as examples to learn from in making this decision.
Out of 63 TIF projects, only 7 received $80,000 or more. 3 received over $200,000.
Can't just look at numbers, need to take other things in context-such as the impact of a large, vacant downtown building.
Eldridge's are a well-established, successful business.
Wallrich's comments end ...
Eldridge's plan to move entire practice over to new location.
Public comment: I did research on highest dentists per capita in major metropolitan areas. Washington D.C. has the most. Homewood, comparatively, handily beats it.
Issue of car towing brought up. Eldridge says it's currently a liability issue that will change once they're established.
Mayor Hofeld: When your office is closed (once its built), can other cars park there when in downtown?
Dr. Eldridge: Yes
Trustee Barbara Dawkins: I think $80,000 is a lot, frankly. Considering investment costs, however, $80,000 is a fair amount.
Trustee Lisa Purcell agrees.
Trustee Anne Colton: $80,000 is a lot of money. We have a lot of dentists. I just can't do $80,000. Maybe we can discuss a reduced amount.
Trustee Jay Heiferman: are there plans for the space you're leaving?
Eldridge: Yes. Arbor Eye Care will expand into our old space.
Eldridge: Currently 11. Looking to get to 15.
Heiferman: great project. I don't know if the public has to pay for it. I'd be willing to consider giving money through other TIF incentive programs, such as facade and property improvement or go green.
Trustee Robertson: the one thing that concerns me is the parking. Towing cars from other downtown businesses and their customers is not the way to deal with the situation.
Eldridge: We gave them opportunities to rent. The lot is dangerous.
Trustee Tom Kataras: for 4 years, we had problems with parking. I was a nice guy and allowed people to park there for free. They shouldn't be penalized for that. Other businesses should call Eldridges and make a rent deal. This gentleman has been a businessman for 21 years. He's investing over a million dollars. I'm really disappointed. I think staff made wrong assumptions about The Cottage and it skewed the TIF allowance recommendation.
During closing comments, Trustee Barbara Dawkins blasted Trustee Tom Kataras, the former owner of Tom's Family Restaurant, for commenting on the issue. She claimed he has a personal interest in the decision. Prior to the entire discussion, Homewood Village Attorney Chris Cummings had advised Kataras to refrain from giving any commentary because of his previous and current affiliations with the property.