Former Huntley fire station to be turned into restaurant, apartments

A former fire station in downtown Huntley is on track to be transformed into a mixed-use development with a restaurant and apartments after village trustees approved the renovation plans at their board meeting Thursday.

Trustees unanimously approved the sale of the site, an agreement for the redevelopment, and a series of special-use permits allowing for mixed-use of the property. Trustees Ronda Goldman and Harry Leopold were not in attendance.

"I think it's a great addition to our community," Village President Timothy Hoeft said at the meeting before the vote. "I think it's going to help our downtown overall with the way we've planned this. ... I've got all the confidence in the world that this will be a quality project."

The plans call for the building, which was previously Huntley Fire Protection District's Fire Station 1 at 11808 Coral St., just west of Woodstock Street, to be reused and renovated. A restaurant with a patio is set to go on the first floor. The restaurant, which will be a D.C. Cobbs, will be a little less than 5,200 square feet.

Three stories are to be added to the building, which will be used as residential space. Two studio apartments, nine one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments, for a total of 18 units, are planned, according to village documents.

Plans for the renovation date back to September when the village began discussions with Billitteri Enterprises LLC, the developer of the project who has done several projects in the region.

"We've spent a lot of time on this, and we're actually very excited about this," John Curtis, representative of the project, said at the meeting. "We're very excited about getting started as soon as possible."

Heading into Thursday's meeting, the site still was owned by the Huntley Fire Protection District. As part of a purchase agreement approved Thursday, the village will pay the fire protection district $375,000 for the site and then sell the southern portion of the site to Billitteri for $10. The village plans to develop the northern part into parking.

Billitteri's purchase of the building is paired with a variety of requirements for the developer, including that Billitteri invests at least $5 million into the site, officials said.

The building's shell is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with the restaurant slated to be open by the end of June 2023, according to village documents. The developer could be penalized financially if the deadlines are not met.

Trustee JR Westberg asked how Billitteri was planning to deal with rising construction costs. Curtis said his pricing is updated constantly, saying they have a strong idea of how much things will cost at all times.

"I'm just throwing a little bit of caution out there," Westberg said.

Trustee Mary Holzkopf asked several questions, including questions about the deadlines, the noise and staffing at the restaurant, but ultimately said she was in support of the project.

"I feel like any development this huge is a calculated risk," she said. "For me, this is a risk worth taking . ... I think what you're going to bring to our community is going to be beautiful."

Trustee Niko Kanakaris said he is familiar with their projects and likes the work they do. Trustee Curt Kittel said he agreed.

"You guys do a great job," Kanakaris said.

The renovation is part of the village's downtown revitalization plan, which was passed in September 2010. As part of that plan, the village created a tax increment finance, or TIF, district in the area to redevelop various properties within the district.

Officials said at the meeting the project will be the largest to take place within the TIF.

A TIF is a financial tool used by governments to help fund various redevelopment projects by earmarking newly created property tax revenue within the district for redevelopment and improvement projects.

This TIF district is set to expire in 2036, village documents show.

A rendering of the new renovations of the former Fire Station 1, originally occupied by the Huntley Fire Protection District. Huntley trustees approved a final plan for the development, which officials expect to be about $5 million in upgrades. Courtesy of the village of Huntley
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