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posted: 8/11/2012 7:59 AM

What happens to historic mill now that Huntley owns it?

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  • Huntley closed on the Sawyer-Kelley Mill Friday, but officials haven't decided whether to save or tear down the historic building, which was constructed in the 1890s.

       Huntley closed on the Sawyer-Kelley Mill Friday, but officials haven't decided whether to save or tear down the historic building, which was constructed in the 1890s.
    Christian Gossin | Staff Photographer

 
 

The future of a historic building the village of Huntley recently bought for $115,000 has yet to be determined.

Friday afternoon, the village closed on the Sawyer-Kelley Mill, which was built in the 1890s and certainly has seen better days.

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In the coming months, the village board will decide whether to save it or demolish it and put up a parking lot.

According to a village analysis, it would cost roughly $500,000 to renovate the old mill so it complies with local codes, Trustee Niko Kanakaris said.

To him, it doesn't make sense to spend that amount of money on the building, particularly when new parking spaces are already needed for downtown businesses.

"At some point, we're going to need somewhere down there (to park) and something's going to have to be torn down to accommodate that," Kanakaris said. "To spend taxpayers' money to bring this building up to code I don't think is the right decision on my part."

The mill is located in the historic town square. After it closed, it housed the post office and a milk depot.

Today, three businesses occupy the main floor with three apartments upstairs. All tenants are expected to be out by February.

Trustee Pam Fender, also president of the Huntley Historic Society, admits the building is rundown and ugly, but she'd rather save it because it's part of Huntley's heritage and could be a catalyst for revitalizing the downtown.

Ideally, she'd love to partner with someone like Tom Roeser, owner of Otto Engineering.

Roeser was involved in buying and rehabbing buildings in Carpentersville and East Dundee, and is trying to help turn an old hardware store in West Dundee into a regional performing arts center. West Dundee officials initially proposed demolishing the hardware store for a parking lot, but local architect Rick Browne asked them to spare the building while he and Roeser raise money to save it.

Fender said Huntley should try to team with Roeser, too.

"I think we should try to go into a public-private partnership with a developer to make it into a retail location that's nice," Fender said. "I'd like to talk to Tom Roeser. It may be pie-in-the-sky thinking, but I don't have a developer in my back pocket. I don't have millions of dollars in my back pocket."

Roeser couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Kanakaris said he'd definitely have a change of heart if someone like Roeser stepped into the picture.

He also hasn't ruled out establishing a downtown tax-increment finance district that would include the mill.

"We just want the right thing for the town," he said. "Our goal is not to buy these buildings and tear them down. We'll make sure we make the right decisions for the community."

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