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updated: 12/11/2012 11:36 PM

Barrington planners endorse downtown project

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  • An artist's rendering of the retail-office development proposed for the southwest corner of Hough and Main streets.

    An artist's rendering of the retail-office development proposed for the southwest corner of Hough and Main streets.
    Courtesy of the village of Barrington


Barrington plan commissioners Tuesday unanimously recommended approval of a retail-office project to be built by private developers on land the village owns downtown.

The proposal calls for an L-shaped building with an 18,000-square-foot ground floor on the southwest corner of Hough and Main streets, with a single-story 6,000-square-foot building just west on Main Street.

The larger building could be either two or three stories tall depending on the amount of office space leased before construction begins.

The village board will consider the recommendation at 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17.

The plan commission heard both support and criticism from the public as well as rebuttals from the village staff and the developers from Evanston.

The major debate over the project continued to be whether its use of office space was better or worse than residential apartments.

Paul Wells, owner of Barrington RE/MAX, said only an influx of new residents would help drive downtown redevelopment -- not an overabundance of office space.

Some commercial property owners downtown also complained that some of their tenants were now negotiating with the developers. While this would be fair in the free market, the developers in this case are being subsidized by public funds, they said.

Architect and resident Ron Flubacker criticized the height and scale of the project, which he said would cast shadows on the Catlow theater building across Main Street.

"There's no way to dress this up to make it look like individual buildings," Flubacker said. "It overwhelms the community."

But the project received support from others, including two former village trustees and a neighboring property owner.

"I think the use is perfect," former village board member Jerry Conners said. "When I was a trustee, this is what we thought of doing."

Jack Schaefer, another former trustee, agreed -- but with the provision that only the two-story option for the main building be considered.

Karen McCarthy, an architect neighboring the 2.7-acre site, also supported the plan.

"There are pros and cons to any project," she said. "There are ways to solve problems other than saying no, no, no."

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