The retail development at Hough and Main streets in downtown Barrington is moving ahead, despite a fresh outburst of criticism, village officials said this week.
The project involves two new one-story retail buildings on land that was bought by the village almost a decade ago. A private developer is responsible for operating the site and recruiting businesses to locate there.
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Raynette Boschell, a Barrington Hills resident who owns a building near Cook and Station streets, objected to the project at the Barrington board of trustees meeting Monday night. She said developing commercial land should not be part of the village's jurisdiction and that it hurts enterprises like hers when the village helps another a competitor.
"Leave the developing and the renting and all that to the private sector," Boschell said. "I don't think that now it is an equal playing field."
In May, trustees approved the current version of the project. Construction is anticipated to begin around Labor Day and the first businesses could move in when the project is completed in the spring.
The project has been controversial for years, and opposition to it was a key plank in the platform of Mike Kozel when he ran for village president in 2013. He was at Monday's meeting to reiterate his fear that the project will hurt existing local businesses.
"We're going to pick the winners and the losers out there," Kozel said. "The losers are going to be the people who own property in the town and the winners are going to be the out-of-town developer who is getting all the benefits and all the property."
Village President Karen Darch countered the criticism, saying the Hough-Main project is being accomplished using the same authority that the village used when they developed the Cook Street Plaza.
"(The plaza) has really reinvigorated the community in a way that was not seen in 2000 or prior to that project," Darch said, adding the plaza attracted new businesses and restaurants to the greater downtown area, such as McGonigal's Pub.
Darch said the project at Hough-Main is a continuation of the village's desire to enhance the business community.
"(The village is) creating a critical mass of retail, restaurants, things that people in the community have told us year after year that they want here and would like to find here," Darch said.
Darch said much of the land will become public parking lots to accommodate the project and other businesses nearby, such as the Catlow Theater.