A portion of a mostly long-vacant building previously occupied by a car dealership on Northwest Highway in Barrington will be converted into an "escape room" business.
Xscape in Time will join Dawson Builders at 495 W. Northwest Highway. As part of a package of other matters, Barrington village board members at a recent meeting approved a special-use permit for a commercial amusement center the escape room needs to operate.
"We are excited to welcome a new business to the village of Barrington," Village President Karen Darch said Friday, "and from what I have heard and know of 'escape rooms,' this should be a great deal of fun with a challenge for our residents and visitors. It is exciting to have one more new venue for gathering in our village, and terrific that it is a more unusual one for our area."
Champion Dodge Chrysler Jeep filled the entire Northwest Highway building until it suddenly closed in October 2008. Dawson Builders moved into the front section in 2017.
Van J. Paulus plans to continue a suburban escape room trend with a remodeling of a section of the structure. Escape rooms have been popping up in the suburbs since 2014 -- some in office parks, strip malls and vacant downtown storefronts -- and attract a variety of players, including those from corporations seeking team-building activities for employees,
Group physical adventure games are a feature of escape rooms. Games typically involve players being locked in a room and trying to escape, using clues and other means to solve puzzles and riddles.
In a letter to Barrington officials, Paulus said Xscape in Time will be for all ages. Each room will have a different theme, with at least one adult required to accompany any minors playing.
"No doors are locked and you can walk out anytime you want because each room has a team master that will be assigned to that room to assist you, if and when you need clues," Paulus said. "We will have six different rooms, and hopefully after doing one, people will be interested in doing the others. Depending on traffic, we anticipate the same puzzle for each room to last about 18 months."
At an advisory Barrington zoning board of appeals meeting last month, Paulus said a party room will be available for functions before or after competition at Xscape in Time. The business might open by May 1.
D.O.A. Room Escape in Addison, Escapade 360 in Elgin, Escape for Fun in Wheaton and Key Quest in Arlington Heights and Downers Grove are among the suburban escape rooms.