Tension was high last night at the village of Barrington’s Town Hall Meeting.
Community members and business owners gathered at the meeting to hear from village officials about the current state of Barrington. Main topics included the redevelopment project at Hough and Main Streets and how the village is handling finances regarding the project.
The estimated $22 million dollar project partially funded by the tax increment financing district (TIF) is not welcomed by all. The village says an Evanston-based developer has plans to build retail and office space on the village-owned property.
Mike Kozel and Jim Magnanenzi were first to express concerns about the project during the meeting. The two, who are running for village Trustee positions in April, question the village’s ability to pay off TIF district debts. They also say it’s unfair that this developer doesn’t have to pay for the land his buildings will sit on.
“From 2006-2011, the village spent a little more than 10 million dollars to acquire property on the Hough/Main area…it’s anticipated that 10 to 12 million dollars will be invested by the developer to build the buildings, so overall this will be about a 22 million dollar addition to the village,” Director of Community and Financial Services Jason Hayden said.
The village plans to lease the land to the developer for $1 per year for 99 years. The developer will have the option to purchase it after five years. Hayden anticipates the new development will bring in $250,000 per year in additional TIF revenue and $50,000 per year in sales tax revenue.
Many Barrington building owners in attendance also spoke out about the development, accusing the village and its Hough/Main developer of trying to “poach” tenants from existing buildings. With what Magnanenzi calls a 30 percent office vacancy rate in the village, building owners are concerned they will have to drastically reduce rent rates and won't have enough tenants to fill vacancies.
Village President Karen Darch expressed her distaste for the word “poaching” and said existing businesses in the TIF District can only move to a new location within the district if they are expanding.
Village officials stand firmly behind the Hough/Main plan. They say the development will only benefit Barrington businesses, helping to make the village "The In Place," as a new slogan describes.
The Hough/Main development's design review will be heard by the Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 4. The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. at Village Hall.