Developers behind the long-awaited retail project at Hough and Main streets in downtown Barrington are denying local building owners' claims they're trying to poach businesses to fill the 25,000-square-foot space.
Construction is scheduled to begin Monday on the Barrington Village Center, two single-story buildings expected to house a mix of retailers and restaurants on land owned by the village.
As part of an agreement between the village and developers, Arthur Hill and Co. and Envision Realty Advisors, Barrington businesses are only allowed to move to the center if they expand or were going to leave town without the new development.
However, some accuse the developers of violating that agreement and want a village investigation.
Lane Moyer, the owner of the Egg Harbor Building and a building on Northwest Highway, said some of his tenants told him that developers have recruited them.
"The way it has been set up has really hurt the building owners," Moyer said. "It's going to do nothing but move one piece into (the new development) and then you are going to leave some buildings vacant when the strategy ought to be to bring in new business."
Bruce Reid, a developer from Arthur Hill, said his company has not solicited existing Barrington businesses, but have respond vigorously when those businesses approached them.
"We are delighted with the level of local tenant interest we have received," Reid said.
Developers anticipate between 10 to 14 tenants occupying the Barrington Village Center, but Reid declined to name any business that have committed. He said not all of the spaces have tenants so far, but he expects more businesses to sign up closer to the project's expected completion in May.
Moyer said the Hough-Main project is unfair to other building owners because its developers didn't have to buy the land they are building on. Because of that, he believes they can charge less for rent.
However, Reid said he believes rents will be higher because it is a new building.
Barrington Village Manager Jeff Lawler said the village is working to get the word out about next week's construction to drivers who have been using site as a parking lot.
When completed, the development will have 132 public parking spaces.