A retailer eyeing the vacant Dominick's site in Lake in the Hills is having second thoughts on a deal because of the potential impact of proposed road improvements at a nearby intersection.
Several Lake in the Hills business and property owners have sent letters opposing McHenry County Department of Transportation's proposal to build a continuous flow intersection at Algonquin and Randall roads.
Michigan-based Art Van Furniture has opened six stores since entering the Chicago area market, including stores in Batavia, Orland Park and Woodridge.
The former Dominick's property is northeast of Randall and Algonquin roads in the Center at Lake in the Hills shopping center. The retailer proposes splitting up the existing Dominick's building to occupy roughly 50,000 square feet, while another retail tenant would occupy 22,000 square feet, according to village officials.
Lee Winter, real estate manager for Art Van Furniture, wrote the county engineer that the retailer won't move forward with its plan until the county drops the continuous flow intersection idea. The proposed improvement is "unacceptable because it severely restricts the existing access points on all of the affected retail properties and as a result we have suspended our efforts here," Winter wrote.
Joseph Korpalski, the county's director of transportation and county engineer, said county officials are taking the letters seriously.
"We indeed have been reaching out to these people to have meetings with them to discuss their concerns," he said.
Gino DeVivo, Lake in the Hills economic development coordinator, said if Art Van passes on the Dominick's site, it could affect future investment and redevelopment of nearby sites.
"Without the redevelopment of Dominick's not only will the entire northeast corner be affected by the lack of an anchor draw -- which will affect tenants, small businesses, and jobs -- but it could also spread to the entire intersection," he said. "It's cause for alarm because access is not just something that is a requirement or concern for Art Van. It's shared throughout the commercial sector."
Existing business owners and tenants along that commercial corridor also are worried about the proposed road improvements, he added.
"Uncertainty is something that is looming over everyone's head and it is going to affect their decisions (about) renewing leases, investing in the area," DeVivo said. DeVivo said if the Dominick's site doesn't get redeveloped, it could hurt potential investment into a five-acre property to the north.
"Development spurs development," he said. "Without vitality there's stagnation. It's a domino effect."
The 3.5-mile Randall Road improvement project is estimated to cost roughly $115 million, including construction, land acquisition and engineering. The continuous flow intersection alone is expected to cost roughly $13 million for construction, according to county officials.
A few business and property owners recently met with the county's consultant, TranSystems and Bollinger Lach and Associates, to relay concerns about the project.
"You need to take a look at the merchants who bring in the sales tax dollars," said Tom Grieco, owner of Tommy's Red Hots in front of the former Dominick's site. "Our shopping center is closer to 50 or 60 percent vacancy rate. Since the Dominick's has left, business has been down. There is no traffic flow. They've destroyed one of the premier intersections in the county, and they are going to make it worse. It just needs to be planned out a little bit better to make it (work) for everybody."