A 602-acre property, most of which was disconnected from Barrington Hills during a long, intense legal fight that began early last decade, is being put up for sale by its would-be developer.
The Fritz Duda Co. is asking for $17 million for the jaggedly bordered undeveloped land at Spring Creek and Haegers Bend roads in McHenry County, along Barrington Hills' border with Algonquin.
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About 105 acres remain in Barrington Hills today, but the rest is unincorporated as a result of its legal disconnection, said Gregory Pacelli, principal of Colliers International, which is acting as the seller's agent.
Fritz Duda could not be reached for comment on the decision to sell.
His Dallas-based company sued Barrington Hills in 2001 because the village rejected its plans to build a residential subdivision and golf course that did not fall in line with the town's 5-acre minimum lot size. The developer eventually won, making much of the land unincorporated McHenry County.
Pacelli said the land is being sold free of any ties to the previous concept.
A sale carries at least the potential of good news for both Barrington Hills and Algonquin officials, who agree they'd like to see Barrington Hills regain control of the site.
Algonquin had been approached by Duda, which wanted to connect to the village's water and sewer systems to allow more dense development. Barrington Hills' reliance on private wells and septic systems limit development to larger lots.
An agreement worked out by McHenry County in 2007 would allow both villages to annex different parts of the now unincorporated land and permit Duda to build a more dense subdivision in Algonquin and on 5-acre lots in Barrington Hills.
But Algonquin Village President John Schmitt now says his village isn't interested in taking advantage of Barrington Hills' defeat in court.
"We're interested in making sure the quality of life isn't negatively affected for either Algonquin or Barrington Hills," Schmitt said. "The best thing for everyone would be for that parcel to be reannexed by Barrington Hills. We'll support Barrington Hills in its efforts to become whole again."
Barrington Hills' senior trustee, Fritz Gohl, said whether the sale is a good thing for his village is entirely in the hands of whoever the buyer or buyers may be.
"I feel the village of Barrington Hills would accept them back into the village with open arms," he said, adding that Algonquin has been a good neighbor to his community.
While the Barrington Hills name had been seen as a selling point for the land's development, most of it isn't in Barrington Hills anymore, he said.
While the Duda Co. would like to sell the land to a single buyer, a sales brochure indicates the company is open to dividing the site -- going so far as to offer suggestions for eight separate parcels of different sizes.
Pacelli said he couldn't speak to why the Duda Co. was putting the site up for sale at this time, other than that it remains busy pursuing other projects elsewhere in the country.
While the housing market ground to a halt during the recession, it's now slowly getting back to normal, Pacelli said, adding that there already has been some interest in the site. One of the first things active developers are trying to do is take over and complete projects left unfinished during the recession.
Gohl said he and other Barrington Hills officials feel somewhat indebted to the slowdown of the housing market for preventing a type of development they didn't want to see. But it's far from certain yet that the Duda property will see the kind of housing they could support, he said.
"It basically depends on who purchases the property," he said.