Village, residents, developer on course for battle over Calumet Country Club

Homewood government and residents are gearing up for a fight with the owners of Calumet Country Club and the Arizona developer who plans to turn the land into a warehouse distribution center.

  The most recent submitted
  plan for redeveloping Calumet
  Country Club would convert
  the golf course into a fulfillment
  center.
(Provided image)
 

The club’s owners filed a petition with the Cook County Circuit Court last month to effectively secede from Homewood. The land is being sold. 

The village and prospective buyer Diversified Partners, an Arizona-based real estate developer, failed to come to an agreement on the use for the land. The proposed distribution center could see up to 300 trucks cycle through per day.

Homewood would prefer the land be reserved for retail use. Residents in the area would like to see it remained as a golf course or some other sort of green space.  

About 116 acres —the bulk of the property— is within Homewood. The club’s address is 2136 175th Street. The remainder is in Hazel Crest. 

In order for a territory to “disconnect” from a municipality, state law requires it meet six criteria. 

It must be at least 20 acres and be located on the border of the municipality. If disconnected, it won’t leave any portion of the municipality isolated to itself or disrupt planning or zoning ordinances. It cannot disrupt town services like sewers, street lighting, water mains, garbage collection or fire protection. 

Lastly, disconnection can’t cause undue harm of tax revenue. According to the petition, Homewood estimated property taxes for that land at $271,980.66 in 2018. The village gets about $27,000, less than .02% of the village’s total tax revenue. The rest goes to other taxing bodies.

Homewood Village Attorney Chris Cummings said the next step is for the village to formally answer the petition, addressing each of the six points. 

The village has 30 days from the time it received the petition to respond. Cummings said he expects Homewood to do so in early September. After that, a judge will be assigned, a hearing set and the sides will engage in discovery. 

Homewood can dispute any of the six criteria or ask for more information.

Diversified Partners CEO Walt Brown said his firm was unable to find a retailer willing to locate in the space and tried fruitlessly to find senior living, office and medical tenants. 
Brown said the village asked him to explore those avenues after he initially came to them with a plan for an industrial use. The plan only came back to industrial after Diversified Partners explored those other options, according to Brown.

DP would need to spend millions of dollars more to make the land suitable for residential use, he said. Brown also doubts the market is strong enough for residential development.
“We’re committed to making this happen,” Brown said. “We’re not going back.”

Many residents in the Governors Park neighborhood south of the site said they’d like to see the club remain a golf course, though no formal opposition group has yet formed. 
Warren and Robin Skalski were married at Calumet Country Club and still golf there, in addition to living in the area.

“What trumps the noise or all the trucks is just the preservation of the space,” Warren Skalski said. “Of course I want it to be a golf course. It’s a historical course, a Donald Ross (designed) course. It’s a gem that’s been here for a century.” 

Brown said DP has considered including space in the site plan for walking and biking trails and larger than legally necessary landscaped setbacks from the road. The Skalskis said they don’t believe those things will end up in the project.

“In a worst-case scenario, if it became a park, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to that,” Robin Skalski said. “I don’t want 300 trucks (per day) coming through.” 

Because Calumet Country Club ownership is under contract with Diversified Partners, Cummings said it would be difficult for the village to buy the land, as some residents have suggested. Diversified Partners would need to agree to sell to the village or dissolve the agreement.

“We’re talking about millions of dollars even if the village could purchase it. Nobody has that just laying around,” Cummings said. “But there’s also a pre-existing contract.” 
Brown said Diversified Partners hasn’t had any contact with Homewood since March and doesn’t plan to. 

Homewood officials recently held two public meetings to keep residents abreast of the situation. They plan to hold more as it develops, Village Manager Jim Marino said. 
 

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