South Suburbs for Greenspace Over Concrete has taken the case to court, arguing redevelopment of the Homewood, Ill. club will increase air pollution and clog roads. Diversified Partners bought the 127-acre Illinois property for $3.3 million, with plans to build 800,000 sq. ft. of distribution and warehouse facilities.
Calumet Country Club in Homewood, Ill. was set to be the new home of an 800,000-sq.-ft. distribution and warehouse facility, Transport Topics reported. Now it is at the center of a heated legal battle involving a part of the city critical to trucking as it sits near major interstate highways in Chicago.
C+RB reported on the plans to transform the property in November 2020.
Its 120-year-old golf course, designed by legendary architect Donald Ross, once hosted Professional Golf Association tournaments such as the Western Open, which was the biggest tournament in the Midwest, Transport Topics reported. But, in recent years, the course fell on hard financial times, and its owners owed $500,000 in back taxes.
A little more than two years ago Scottsdale, Ariz.-based developer Diversified Partners bought the 127-acre Illinois property for $3.3 million with plans to build warehouses and a logistics center, the village and developer told Transport Topics. But there was a snag.
Neighborhood residents formed a committee to oppose the plan. South Suburbs for Greenspace Over Concrete said the redevelopment will increase air pollution and clog roads, Transport Topics reported. Lawsuits and tense meetings with city officials followed. Also, an official with the Village of Homewood resigned under fire. She had made critical remarks about the neighborhood committee at a meeting, speaking into a microphone she thought was off.
The battle over the Calumet Country Club course is taking place as cities expand and developers eye valuable land to keep up with the surging demand in e-commerce—now more than 20 percent of the total U.S. economy, Transport Topics reported. Amazon.com is building a $350 million distribution center in Clay, N.Y., on the site of a golf course. It also recently announced plans for a $200 million facility on a golf course in Alcoa, Tenn. And UPS Inc. is planning a 1 million-sq.-ft. warehouse in Philadelphia on a course, and in Portland, Ore., a closed country club is being turned into a logistics center by Prologis Inc.
Property broker Keith Cubba specializes in the sale of golf courses with Colliers Golf Course Advisory Services in Las Vegas. He told Transport Topics if the course can be redeveloped, it’s worth a lot more, even if it’s a successful course.
“There is no more land that you can buy in large parcels,” Cubba told Transport Topics. “But the transition from a golf course to a warehouse or truck depot can be challenging. It doesn’t stop people in the neighborhood from protesting because they fear their property values will go down.”
Illinois Trucking Association President Matt Hart points out Chicago has a 170-year history as a central transportation hub, and this location is perfect as a logistics center, Transport Topics reported.
“Areas south of Chicago, especially on the I-80 corridor—those are hot spots for freight,” he said. “The Chicagoland area is one of the largest inland ports in the nation, and Chicago is so important in the national supply chain.”
On March 9, opponents of the redevelopment won a victory when the Homewood Village board rejected four ordinances that would have rezoned the property and granted a special use permit allowing the company to begin, Transport Topics reported. Now the case is headed to Cook County Court. A judge will decide if the developer can enforce an agreement the developer had with the Village that would have allowed the golf course to essentially de-annex from Homewood and potentially be annexed by two nearby municipalities or Cook County.
“Our Village attorney has instructed me not to comment,” Mayor Richard Hofeld told Transport Topics.
Diversified Partner CEO Walter Brown believes his company will win, Transport Topics reported.
“We have a settlement agreement in place: Either they approve our plan, or the land is disconnected from the city,” Brown said. “We have multiple options. It’s not going to be a golf course. It’s going to happen.”
But a lawyer for the community group said the fight is just starting, and he believes the Village’s agreement with the developer is illegal, Transport Topics reported.
“None of us have any issues with truck terminals, but this is a zoning nightmare,” attorney Peter Keating said. “Even if the development goes to another community, we’ll fight this.”
Real estate attorney Bill Lewis, a partner with law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP and not associated with this case, said as consumers demand faster delivery of products because of e-commerce, large parcels of land—even if they are a historic golf course—will be more valuable, Transport Topics reported.
“Golf courses are easy to clean and faster to build on,” Lewis said, “if you can get the zoning and regulatory approval.”