Barrington trustees OK downtown plan despite protests
Barrington architect Ron Flubacker and Paul Wells, the owner of ReMax in Barrington, are concerned about the size and uses proposed in the downtown redevelopment in the TIF District at Main and Hough. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media.
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:16AM
Barrington — The Barrington Board of Trustees approved a recommendation from the Plan Commission on Monday for the redevelopment of the southwest corner of Hough and Main streets in downtown Barrington.
The decision came after the Board, the Plan Commission and the Architectural Review Committee heard from numerous residents who voiced their opposition to the project. The plan includes retail on the ground floor and office space on the upper floors.
The developers told trustees that a two-story structure would stand about 50-feet high; three stories would bring it to roughly 65-feet high. Whether the structure will ultimately be built two or three stories high is yet to be decided.
Despite the protests, Village President Karen Darch noted that the Plan Commission had previously voted unanimously to send the Board a recommendation to move ahead with the development. Darch said the structure is part of a larger plan that has been in place for several years aimed at improving downtown Barrington.
“I think it’s important to stress that the village has been on a mission and has had a goal,” said Darch. “We feel really confident that this is a project that will complete downtown.”
Barrington architect Ron Flubacker, however, argued that the structure is on a scale that would overwhelm the rest of the downtown.
“We are at most a two-story community,” said Flubacker. “I think there are some real serious missteps here.”
Other residents voiced opposition not to the development itself but to the use of it for office space, instead of residential.
Paul Wells, owner of ReMax on Northwest Highway in Barrington, said while demand for office space is diminishing due to telecommuting and shared offices, residential housing rental units are not currently available in Barrington.
“Barrington is going through the largest shortage of residential real estate it has ever seen,” said Wells. “We’ve got a changing market and we’re not changing with it.”
Residents also expressed concern over a weak retail market and additional parking challenges the development might create.
Kevin Kramer, Barrington’s economic and community development planner, said the retail and office mix makes sense because while office space is used primarily during the day, retail traffic would pick up in the evening, after many parking spaces have been vacated.
“They won’t be utilized at the same time,” said Kramer, adding that the retail component would be beneficial to the local economy. “This office space will increase daytime population and employment opportunities.”
Michael Miller, owner of M.J. Miller’s Jeweler’s, which sits on the otherwise vacant property, said he does not think the Board has been communicative enough with the community.
“This whole situation has not been very transparent,” said Miller. “We don’t feel there is harmony in the way the building is set.”
Many area residents said they thought adding residential into the mix in place of office space would bring the foot traffic needed for retail businesses to flourish.