Retail tenants are lining up faster than expected for Barrington's downtown redevelopment project on the southwest corner of Hough and Main streets, but a large office tenant believed to be already committed has dropped out unexpectedly.
That was the news this week out of a progress report the Evanston-based developers behind the retail-office project delivered to Barrington officials.
While it's still possible construction could begin on the buildings this year, that seems less likely today than when the village board gave final approval in December, said Bruce Reid, president and chief operating officer of development partner Arthur Hill & Co.
At this point, leases for about 56 percent of the development's retail space have either been signed or are under negotiation.
"That's a happy circumstance, but it's a double-edged sword," Reid said. "We didn't want to get too far along with the retail."
The reason for that is that leases are offered at a lower rate for those who commit before construction. Under the development agreement with the village, construction cannot start until there are signed leases for at least 50 percent of both the office and retail space.
Plans call for an L-shaped building with an 18,000-square-foot ground floor at the corner of Hough and Main streets with a one-story, 6,000-square-foot building just west of it. The larger building would be either two or three stories tall, with the upper floors reserved for office space.
Reid said his company had a fully negotiated letter of intent with a high-end office tenant, but that deal fell through. The developer now is in talks with another prospective office tenant. As a result of the state of negotiations and the amount of competition that exists, the price of the office space has been reduced, Reid said.
The redevelopment project played a prominent role in this year's race for village president, specifically because of the upper-floor office space.
Write-in candidate Mike Kozel, who ultimately lost to incumbent Karen Darch, argued that the region's office space market already is oversaturated and that the upper floors ought to be reserved for residential apartments instead.
Reid at the time said that apartments could work, but his company was confident the right kind of office tenant could provide a better return on investment.