In terms of history, Homer Glen is only a wide-eyed teenager. Incorporated in 2001, the 19-year-old village is just beginning to flex its limbs and experience growth.
But those who have called the rolling fields and forests home for a generation cast a careful eye on expansion. It’s within this dichotomy that economic development occurs slowly and carefully.
“Homer Glen is really an amazing and unique village,” explained economic director Janie Patch. “For the first several years, there was little development. But now that the transportation infrastructure is in place, smart growth can begin.”
The infrastructure Patch referred to consists of several roadway projects. I-355 connects the southwest suburb to I-80 and I-55. I-294 is a short hop to the east. Meanwhile, the state expanded 159th Street from two lanes to four, and 143rd Street was resurfaced to provide another corridor.
“We now have three robust business corridors,” Patch said. “All three — 159th, 143rd and Bell Road — have high traffic volume and easy access to the main interstates that can take traffic to and from O’Hare” International Airport.
The three corridors give Homer Glen ample space to grow its business base. The municipality depends on sales tax for its revenue, so business expansion is key to the future.
“We now have hundreds of acres to develop these commercial corridors,” Patch said. “The village took the proactive step of extending the water and sewer infrastructure to the west borders in the past two years, so everything is in place for a business to build.”
While the physical infrastructure was being built, the village administration developed a comprehensive plan that combined smart growth with the important aspect of maintaining the village's rural charm that attracted residents.
“The one thing we do not want to do is change our identity,” said Keith Gray, village trustee and chairman of the community development committee. “Our 25,000 village residents moved and built here because of the beauty and charm they discovered. We see the need to grow and bring in younger people, but not at the expense of who we are.”
In 2019, 15 new businesses opened in the village, most in new buildings developed in the corridors. “We already have 12 new business members this year,” Patch said. “We’re in discussions with a few more. Business developers see the opportunities here and are enthused to build and expand.”
The Square at Goodings Grove is Homer Glen’s first residential development under the new comprehensive plan. It is a low-maintenance townhome community designed to attract commuters who want to raise their family in a suburb close to everything.
“When we built our plan, we realized the importance of life-cycle housing,” Gray said. “We want to have homes for starters, seniors and every phase of life in between. The current set of homes in the village doesn't offer many options.”
The plans are always discussed in public meetings, to which the community is invited. “We’ve gotten great involvement from our residents,” Gray said. “They understand we need to grow and get younger. We are respectful of their concerns on overcrowding. Our plan is to control density, so residents don’t feel squeezed.”
The growth in the last two years has gone according to plan. Next year is already shaping up much like 2019 and 2020.
“We continue to put a lot of thought into the shaping of Homer Glen,” Patch said. “We want everyone to be optimistic about our future. These are exciting times for our village.”