Take all the photographs you can of North River Street in the next month or so, East Dundee residents, because by the end of summer it will not look the same.
June 1 marked the beginning of the next redevelopment stage of East Dundee's business district. On that date, village board members began leasing the eastern half of the Doederlein Lumber Company. They plan to knock down that portion, extend Meier Street, and pave a parking lot.
Also, they plan to lay down a section of railroad tracks and park a red train caboose on them.
"It will be right next to the bike path and have a restaurant inside," said East Dundee Village Administrator Robert Skurla. "People using the bike path will be able to ride up and buy a hot dog or hamburger."
The caboose will not look out of place because it will be close to the bike path, which was once tracks that serviced trains to East Dundee.
"I saw it for sale on (the Internet), and I just couldn't pass it up," said East Dundee Village President Lael Miller. "We're getting the section of tracks and the caboose from a seller out of Wauconda for $47,000. It already has the coolers and the appliances in it."
Village officials plan to lease it to a restaurant operator who will serve hungry cyclists from a side window. It will not have indoor seating. Fox Valley residents who like to dine indoors may have a choice of at least three new restaurants that may open along North River Street, which now could be known as "restaurant row."
"The reason we are taking down a portion of the lumber company and putting in a parking lot is because there is limited parking in this area," Skurla said. "This venture would make it more marketable to restaurants. Our goal is to create 150 more parking spots for the restaurants and other business. Available parking is very important. This is all a part of the "Discover Dundee" campaign."
The ambitious marketing and reconstruction campaign's goal is to attract more businesses, customers, and residents to the village.
"Currently, we are in discussion with people who are interested in opening a wood-fire pizza restaurant and another person interested in opening a barbecue restaurant," Skurla said.
The Rakow (office furniture) building may hold a restaurant and the shuttered Pour House may hold one or two.
Miller said an additional restaurant could open in 110 North River St., a house that has been converted into an art studio that was being operated by Brad Giertz until he died in 2013. Two years before he died, Giertz started a 1,100-square-foot, two-story addition onto the house. He never finished it.
"I know it sounds like a risky venture to open up one restaurant," Miller said. "We're working with people who have good track records in the restaurant business."
The idea behind the "restaurant row" is to give people a choice of dining and have the aroma of cooking food market the area, the administrator said.
"This will be a culinary district. We may even have rooftop dining in one location," said Skurla. "Our goal is to have restaurants attract other restaurants. It will be good for the village and the restaurants and other businesses in West Dundee as well."
Before the ovens can be heated, though, generations of artifacts must be moved from the side of the Doederlein to the west side.
Parts of the complex have been standing since the 1920s; before it sold lumber; it sold coal to heat homes and businesses. It also sold cement. For nearly a century the family has collected a city block full of artifacts including enough lumber to build half a dozen homes, old business signs, and Civil War-era artillery wagons.
"The wagons were horse-drawn and used to take lumber to construction sites," said Greg Capocasa, who operates Mid Valley Glass and Mirror. "I think the hoops for the wagons are around here someplace."
In the section that will not be demolished are old televisions sets, interior doors, vintage carpentry equipment, and a few vintage cars.
The bright yellow fence along the bike path will also come down and be replaced with a new one, said Skurla.
"We have been moving this stuff little by little, but now we have to hurry," he said.
Nine coal bins that were filled by freight trains and a pole barn will be torn down. The company office will stand and two businesses, Mid Valley Glass and Mirror and a landscaping company will continue to occupy the building.
"We have a 15-year lease with an option to buy on the eastern portion of the property," Skurla said. "Our intent is to acquire the other half when the Doederlein family is ready to sell it to the village."