The windows at 18027-18029 Dixie Highway in Homewood have been papered over all summer as the owners of Vice District Brewing have been working their way through regulatory requirements in preparation for doing renovations.
With three measures approved by Homewood trustees Tuesday, Vice District is poised to begin the buildout process, and the owners hope to have the craft brewery and taproom open early in 2017.
The board approved $100,000 in business incentive funding, a special use permit and a resolution of support for the company's application to Cook County for Class 8 property tax relief.
The past piece, a permit from IDOT to rebuild a water line to Dixie Highway, is on its way, according to village officials.
Co-owners Quintin Cole and Curtis Tarver were at the board meeting and said they hope to begin construction next week.
Homewood Economic Development Director Tom Vander Woude said the businessmen were drawn to the village because of its transit services. The initial plan was to develop a production facility to serve its Chicago taproom.
"When they toured Homewood, they realized what a great location it is, and they came to us and said they would also like to do a taproom here," Vander Woude said.
That decision changed the scope of the project and was cited as a reason for the Class 8 request. The property tax relief, if approved by the county, is expected to save the company about $18,000 per year, Vander Woude said. That will help the company add jobs and increase the taproom's hours of operation.
Vander Woude noted the former Homewood Kitchen and Bath building has been vacant for three years and is not usable without extensive renovations, making the project a good fit with the Class 8 designation, which is intended to help make unused property productive again.
Trustee Anne Colton agreed.
"Ordinarily I'm not a big fan of Class 8, but I think this situation is exactly what it's there for," she said. "I think you guys are going to bring such a great energy to that area."
The village incentive money will help with buildout costs, including a $40,000 sprinkler system needed to bring the building up to code and the estimated $25,000 for the water line project.
Vander Woude noted, too, that Vice District qualifies as a targeted business in that it is expected to contribute to the village's goals of bringing more vitality to the downtown area. He said the sales and restaurant tax revenues paid by the business will eventually offset the village's investment.
Cole and Tarver thanked the board for its support and Vander Woude for his help.
"We're seeing so much support from the community," Cole said. "It's not too often you look at a building and the mayor gives you the tour. I was shocked. That meant a lot to us."
Tarver added that they expected to have obstacles to overcome based on their experience opening their first establishment on the South Loop.
"We had to navigate ourselves through the obstacles ... alone," he said. "Through the obstacles we've had this time, we've had the village to support us the entire way, and that has solidified our decision to come to the village of Homewood."
Trustee Jay Heiferman complimented them on their early contributions to the community, especially support for the Homewood Science Center. The company has participated in several local events this summer, including Art & Garden Fair in June, the first Homewood Hopfest in July and Fall Fest in September.
Vander Woude said staff recommended approval of the special use permit, a requirement for craft brewers that want to locate in a business zone because brewing beer introduces manufacturing activities to area. He said he did not think the brewery would disturb neighboring homes or businesses.
He said the question was raised about odors that might be generated by brewing.
"Essentially the smells that are created have been described as Malt-O-Meal," he said. "If you're OK with breakfast, you're going to be OK with Vice District in your back yard."