Homewood approves tax break for new restaurant

The Homewood village board, at its Sept. 25 meeting, passed a resolution supporting a Class 8 tax incentive for a property at 1941 Ridge Road. The property is expected to be the location of a new restaurant. Trustee Lisa Purcell abstained from voting because she has an ownership interest in the property.
Eric Schamber, of Dessin Properties, LLC, owns Empanadus restaurants in La Grange and Riverside. The business sells several varieties of empanadas, a stuffed pastry that is a traditional food in Argentina, where Schamber is from. 

The company also serves soups and salads, caters events and has been a regular vendor at the Homewood Farmers Market in recent years.
Schamber is purchasing the vacant property that once housed Beans and Greens Food Co Op. 
According to a memo from Homewood Director of Economic and Community Development Angela Mesaros to Village Manager Jim Marino, Schamber is investing about $100,000 in capital improvements. Construction is set for completion the first quarter of next year.
A Cook County Class 8 tax incentive allows real estate to be assessed at 10 percent of market value for the first 10 years, 15 percent the 11th year and 20 percent in the 12th year. It can be renewed during the 10th year with the board’s approval.
The incentive aims to make Cook County more attractive to businesses considering locations in other counties or in Indiana, where property taxes are lower. 
Schamber told the village that he estimates property taxes without the Class 8 would be $25,906 annually. The incentive would cut that to $10,362 for the first 10 years.
The Ridge Road site has been vacant less than two years, so the village had to find special circumstances for the Class 8. 
Upgrades to the exterior, interior renovations to convert the property into a restaurant, enhancing the commercial viability of Homewood’s downtown area qualify as special circumstances, Mesaros wrote in her memo.

If approved by the county, the Class 8 designation would be the first for Homewood since new rules went into effect Sept. 1 requiring contractors to pay prevailing wage on projects receiving the tax incentive. Leaders of south suburban municipalities strongly opposed the rule change, arguing it would put the region at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring counties and Northwest Indiana, where property tax rates are much lower.
For more information about the restaurant, visit www.empanadus.com.
Schamber did not respond to The Chronicle’s attempts to reach him for this story.
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