Huntley trustees decide to demolish historical downtown mill

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 9:38 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 11:51 p.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – A former 19th century mill in downtown Huntley will be demolished and turned into a multi-tenant commercial space fashioned with a late-1800s look, the Village Board unanimously decided Thursday.

Trustees weighed the wishes of local historians who have been clamoring for nearly a year to save the former Sawyer-Kelley mill, which originally belonged to two influential residents instrumental in developing the village in the 1800s.

But a $1.01 million proposal to raze the building and create a one-story, multi-tenant commercial space that required less money from the village ultimately swayed board members.

“It’s important that the area be gentrified, and I don’t see how we can’t lean toward something that offers additional businesses for our residents,” said Trustee Ronda Goldman, who has served on the Huntley Historical Society. “I have a heavy heart because the building is historical, but we need to face progress in Huntley.”

The competing proposal trustees rejected would have preserved the former mill, but required the village to cover the entire redevelopment project estimated at $816,120.

Village administrators will now begin negotiations with Lake in the Hills-based CSC Commercial Inc. on its proposal to create a new business space at 11801 Main St.

The move strikes a blow to Huntley’s local historians. Members from the Huntley Historic Preservation Commission have criticized village officials for refusing to preserve historical downtown properties.

CSC Commercial’s proposal would create a 5,400-square-foot commercial building modeled off the look of downtown village square buildings at the turn of the 20th century.

The village would need to contribute $330,000 of the $1.01 million to help cover additional improvements. The village price tag includes the $115,000 officials spent last year to acquire the historical property.

The new building should be valued at $850,000, CSC Commercial estimated.

Hampshire-based Nettor Enterprises Inc. wanted to preserve the historical building and redevelop it into a first-floor commercial space and second-floor apartments.

The redeveloped property would have been valued at $375,000, Nettor Enterprises estimated.

The village explored redeveloping the mill after officials acquired it as part of their ongoing effort to revitalize the look of downtown Huntley. A firm earlier this summer determined that the historical structure needed significant work to bring the building up to code.

The mill originally belonged to W.G. Sawyer and John Kelley, two local businessmen who helped develop Huntley just after its incorporation in 1872.

Village Manager Dave Johnson said the board’s decision doesn’t guarantee that the village will follow through with the plan proposed by CSC Commercial. Both sides still have to negotiate a formal agreement, he said.

“The board was clear on which proposal to pursue, and now we will sit down and see if there is a way to negotiate a redevelopment agreement that both parties can live with,” Johnson said. “That’s going to take some time, I think, to do that.”

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