Barrington Hills man wants to spruce up East Dundee

Barrington Hills man wants to give E. Dundee a facelift

  • Tom Roeser, owner of Otto Engineering in Carpentersville, bought the former Dundee Lumber site in East Dundee and will develop a park on the spot, which is along the Fox River Trail. And Roeser plans to renovate the downtown and turn it into a thriving, artistic community that attracts visitors.

      Tom Roeser, owner of Otto Engineering in Carpentersville, bought the former Dundee Lumber site in East Dundee and will develop a park on the spot, which is along the Fox River Trail. And Roeser plans to renovate the downtown and turn it into a thriving, artistic community that attracts visitors. Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted5/21/2012 8:30 PM

For years, Tom Roeser, the owner of Otto Engineering in Carpentersville, has concentrated his efforts on making that village a better place to live.

But now, the Barrington Hills resident is spending some money in East Dundee.

 

Roeser recently bought two dilapidated parcels downtown, one on the 300 block of Barrington Avenue that once housed the Dundee Lumber Co., and the other on the 200 block of Barrington Avenue that houses Scoo-B-Do's pet grooming.

A fire leveled Dundee Lumber five years ago, leaving a vacant lot.

Roeser's plan for now is to convert that property, which lies near the Fox River Trail bike trail, into a park.

As for the building that houses Scoo-B-Do's, Roeser wants to make sure the business continues to thrive and that the tenants stay. To that end, he's committed to maintaining the building.

He also has his eye on buying, cleaning up and renovating several other key pieces of property downtown, which is just a few minutes from Otto's headquarters in Carpentersville.

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His eventual goal is to turn downtown East Dundee into a vibrant, artistic "cute" spot, a vision he shares with the village government and hopes to see at least partially realized by the end of the summer.

"I'm not the boogeyman; I'm not coming in here to try to destroy anything, nor am I trying to line my pockets with gold," Roeser told East Dundee trustees last week. "If somebody is a catalyst and can come in and try to fix something and get out of a hole, they haven't lost anything, they don't have to make anything. But everybody's better -- including me -- because if you're vibrant, I'm vibrant."

East Dundee officials are eager to work with Roeser and to do what that they can to keep him happy.

Interim Village Administrator Bob Skurla is preparing an inducement resolution that would outline things Roeser would like in exchange for the work he'd do. For example, Roeser could qualify for a 30 percent recapture on the money he'd spend on the downtown renovations, because the neighborhood is included in a tax increment finance district.

"Of his own volition, he came down here," Skurla said of Roeser. "When you get someone like him, hug and please and squeeze them to keep them coming back and spending money."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Roeser's handiwork in Carpentersville is legendary.

Roeser and Otto spent more than $20 million to renovate Otto's headquarters and the surrounding Old Town area.

The village's largest employer has also bought and renovated townhouses in the Morningside neighborhood. When it comes to the Meadowdale subdivision, Roeser has bought up more than 100 foreclosed homes, renovated them and put them back on the housing market.

Village President Ed Ritter acknowledged that the previous administration had a basic mistrust of Roeser in the past, believing Roeser was only looking out for himself.

It's a notion Ritter says has been proved wrong many times over. Roeser's handiwork, he said, has been a source of neighborhood pride that encourages residents to fix up their own homes.

"He has made a major contribution," Ritter said. "I don't think one person can save a town, but I think one person can make a difference in helping other people save the town as well. He's instilled a good attitude in a lot of people."

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