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Article updated: 11/27/2012 4:35 PM

Debate over downtown Barrington plan continues

By Eric Peterson

A public hearing on Barrington's proposed 2013 budget Monday inspired input on only one specific aspect of it -- the pending redevelopment of the southwest corner of Hough and Main streets in the village's downtown.

Mike Kozel, one of three candidates in the April 9 village board election who's openly opposed to the project, told trustees he's heard concern that the public-private project isn't sufficiently market-driven.

Village President Karen Darch responded that the Evanston-based developers from Arthur Hill and Co. and Envision Realty Advisors were given a free hand to come up with a project they felt today's market could support.

Darch noted the project won't be allowed to go forward without sufficient number of commitments from retail tenants.

But Barrington RE/MAX owner Paul Wells echoed the argument of Kozel and Kozel's running mates, Jim Magnanenzi and JoAnn Fletcher, saying the Hough-Main project should include a residential component to help downtown Barrington thrive.

Also Monday, Jason Hayden, Barrington's director of community and financial services, presented information on the downtown's tax-increment finance district, which he said provides the public funding that attracts a greater amount of private investment.

Hayden said the Hough-Main project is the latest example of how this has been brought about by the 12-year-old TIF district. Earlier examples include the retail and residential Cook Street Plaza, as well as McGonigal's Pub, he said.

As with those, the $10 million the village spent to assemble the land at Hough and Main streets is expected to bring a $10 million to $12 million private investment, Hayden said. That will build 50,000 square feet of new retail and office space, as well as 152 new parking spaces to help all businesses in the currently crowded downtown, he added.

Magnanenzi and Kozel have criticized the village's ability to pay off its TIF district debts, but Hayden called the village's plan sound.

"The village should be very comfortable repaying all of its external debt," he said.

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