A portion of Algonquin's original business district is about to meet the wrecking ball.
Three historic, but crumbling buildings on West Algonquin Road that date back to the late 1800s, will be demolished within the next six months, the village board decided this week in a 4 to 2 vote.
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Tuesday's vote reversed a December decision from the village's historic commission, which voted unanimously to keep the Old Town buildings intact. LUUCK Partnership, a group of four retired doctors that owns the buildings, appealed their case to the board after the commission refused to let them tear the buildings down.
The Partnership bought the property, which contains all three buildings, in 2005 for $375,000 as an investment.
They say the property instead become a "money pit" and a "disastrous drain" on their finances and recently tried to sell it for $359,000.
"Given what happened to the economy ... it's a very poor investment for them," said Joseph Yeung, the partnership's attorney.
The building at 107 W. Algonquin Road was constructed in 1870 and is designated for mixed retail and residential use. Another building, at 109 W. Algonquin Road, was originally an ice house and now functions as a garage, was built circa 1880. The final building, at 111 W. Algonquin Road, was constructed in 1857 and is also reserved for mixed retail and residential use, said Jeff Jolitz, chairman of the historic commission.
While Algonquin's plan outlines a mixed use residential and commercial use for that property, there are no solid plans to redevelop the land.
Tuesday's vote, Jolitz said, was "a slap in the face to all of the residents of Algonquin," especially to those who maintained their property despite falling on hard times. He said the village let the investors take the easy way out by letting them demolish the troubled properties.
"Algonquin is the oldest community in McHenry County," Jolitz said. "But obviously, if we keep losing these structures, you're never going to have the opportunity to have any examples to illustrate that fact."
A memorandum from Community Development Director Russ Farnum said several structural issues plague the buildings. On a walk through, village staff members discovered mold, leaky pipes and cracks in the foundation. Other issues include leaking roofs, and siding, trim, window and door frames in need of repair. Algonquin has cited the property owners for related code violations.
The owners estimate it would cost about $102,000 to fix all of the problems. Yeung said his clients have already spent about $120,000 through the years in repairs.
In the meantime, the property continues to have a "blighting effect on downtown," Farnum wrote.
As part of the vote, the owners have to compile an environmental report to ensure the buildings aren't contaminated. Additionally, in the event someone expresses interest in moving them prior to demolition, the owners have to make them available.
Trustees John Spella, Jerry Glogowski, Brian Dianis and Jim Steigert approved the demolition.
Glogowski said he wants something that will draw people to the downtown, and the buildings weren't it.
Trustees Debby Sosine and Robert Smith were the "no" votes.
Smith said the vote goes against the village's own property maintenance ordinance.
"They kind of got off the hook on it," Smith said of the owners, "and pushed to have their buildings torn down as opposed to fixing them up."