Homewood to purchase building once part of proposed development

  The Triumph building at 2033 Ridge Road is being 
  purchased by the village, which hopes to attract 
  a developer to construct a transit-oriented 
  mixed-use project on the site.
(Photo by Eric 
  Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Homewood agreed to purchase the vacant Triumph building at the corner of Ridge Road and Martin Avenue and village officials hope to reignite a development plan at the key location in downtown Homewood.

The village board approved the $660,000 contract with the Triumph family at its May 22 meeting. The L-shaped building is between 2033 and 2045 Ridge Road and 18042 and 18044 Martin Avenue. The building, which once housed Balagio Ristorante and then Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse, has been vacant for about two years. 

The purchase comes on the heels of a marketing campaign Homewood launched in March aimed at bringing new developers into the village. In a memorandum to Mayor Richard Hofeld and the board, Village Manager Jim Marino said seven developers showed interest in Homewood properties as a result of the campaign. Some of them asked specifically about the Triumph building.

The location is set for a transit-oriented development because of its proximity to the Metra Electric line into Chicago.
Third Coast Development out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, entered into a contract in 2016 with owner Josephine Triumph to purchase the building. That contract expired in January 2017 without Third Coast assuming ownership. The company's representatives applauded the village for taking every step to keep the project going. Reaching an agreement with the Triumph family was the stumbling block, the company said in a statement for the Chronicle.
The Triumph family didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Third Coast planned to develop a new structure where the Triumph building and another nearby building sit. The architectural plan showed 36 residential rental units and about 12,500 square feet of first-floor retail space in a new three-story building.
Third Coast said it had invested $500,000 into the project, but "economic factors are working against the re-development opportunities ... because of higher construction costs and interest rates." 

"These factors have combined to limit the amount of development activity we can pursue and the Homewood project is on hold for our company.  We understand that this means another developer may pick up the mantle and move these projects forward,” the statement read. 

“We want to be clear in stating that the village has been excellent to work with. The village board and staff have done as much as any unit of government can do given the limitations of state law. The people of Homewood should be proud of the way their elected leaders and staff have worked through the complexity of redevelopment in an efficient and effective manner.”
In his memo, Marino said village ownership will make the property easier to develop. He cited similar examples of towns buying private property in La Grange, Lemont, Arlington Heights and Wilmette. 
Only $260,000 of the $660,000 purchase price will be charged to the village's general fund, Marino reported to the board. The remaining $400,000 will be transferred from the Intergovernment Personnel Benefit Cooperative account covering employee health insurance. Few claims were made over the last several years and Homewood’s reserve balance was more than the recommended minimum.  

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