Homewood mulls adding urban plaza downtown
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent October 24, 2013 2:22PM
Updated: November 30, 2013 7:53PM
Homewood will explore the possibility of adding an urban plaza — think a “town square” gathering place — to the central business district in the downtown area.
By a 4-to-1 vote, the board approved a fee of $15,750 for The Lakota Group to determine possible urban plaza sites.
Director of community development Paula Wallrich said The Lakota Group president Scott Freres and project manager Zac McConnell in 2005 worked on Homewood’s Downtown Master Plan. She said the urban plaza is “consistent with goals and objectives” of the plan.
The firm will begin speaking with central business district business owners and report to the board in December and February with recommendations, Wallrich said.
A total of $500,000 has been budgeted for the project.
Homewood resident Amy Crump asked whether downtown business owners were aware they might lose parking space.
Wallrich said the business owners were “absolutely” aware and the consultants would analyze traffic patterns and the parking situation. She said they would look at possible sites from an “economic return perspective.”
Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld said the project is the “genesis” of creating green space and making the area more livable.
Another resident questioned whether the village had “half a million dollars” set aside for the project.
Hofeld said funds from a special taxing district would pay for the project.
Trustee Ann Colton was the only no vote. Trustee Tom Kataras was absent.
“My only concern really is the timing,” Colton said. “I feel like we’re making a lot of changes to the landscape of the downtown right now.”
Colton said she wanted to know the “impact” of Le Banque, a boutique hotel that is owned by Dr. Claude Gendreau and is under renovation in the downtown area, before supporting the plaza concept.
Trustee Jay Heiferman said he thought the study was “important to do” and supported it “at this point.”
McConnell said the firm recently completed urban plazas in Plainfield, Oak Park and Elmhurst.
In other business, the board approved $12,362.50 in special taxing district funds for roof repairs at the dental office of Dr. David Mayer, 18144 Gottschalk Ave.
Wallrich said the funds would be transferred from the Central Business District fund to the East Central Business District fund. Village manager Jim Marino said there currently is no fund balance in the East Central Business District fund.
Hofeld said the village has previously transferred funds from the Central fund to the East Central fund for the American Dance Center and the Haas murals.