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updated: 9/12/2012 10:55 AM

Barrington challengers have different downtown vision

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  • Jim Magnanenzi

      Jim Magnanenzi

  • Michael Kozel

      Michael Kozel

 
 

Two Barrington residents putting together a slate of candidates to run for the village board next spring attracted a crowd of about 20 people -- most with business interests in the downtown -- to a discussion Tuesday evening on the current direction of downtown redevelopment.

Longtime residents Jim Magnanenzi and Michael Kozel -- who announced their candidacies at a similar meeting at Wool Street Grill last month -- are critical of the current village board's involvement in the redevelopment of the southwest corner of Hough and Main streets.

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The two said they're concerned not only with the more than $23 million the village has paid for downtown redevelopment from its tax increment finance district, but also that the pending project at Hough and Main features office space and not apartments on the two floors above its street-level retail space.

Magnanenzi and Kozel argued that rented apartments are what the village needs to build a consumer base for downtown businesses.

Current village trustee Paul Hunt, who also attended the meeting, said the developer the village board chose for the project was under no restrictions other than first-floor retail to come up with a plan the market would sustain.

The developer was certain there was no market for residential property at that location, Hunt said.

Magnanenzi and Kozel argued that the height restriction of three stories in the downtown could have been a reason the developer felt that way. They said such a restriction stands in the way of the downtown thriving.

Hunt and unincorporated resident Bill Hartman said the village's maintaining a three-story height restriction was not based only on the opinions of the village board but those of the entire community as reflected in a recent survey.

But surrounding commercial property owners at the meeting said they found it unfair that the village was in partnership with a developer now in the market to poach their existing tenants or compete with them.

Magnanenzi and Kozel are looking for two more people to be on a four-person slate in the spring. Village President Karen Darch and trustee Tim Roberts are seeking re-election and will be joined on their own slate by trustee candidates Pete Douglas and Sue Padula, replacing retiring incumbents Beth Raseman and Steve Miller.

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