MCCD looks at rental facilities at Fox Bluff

WOODSTOCK – The former campsite at Fox Bluff Conservation Area might be reinvented as a place for weddings, graduations and reunions.

Draft schematics showing three of the former Camp Algonquin buildings located on 163 acres south of Cary near Cary-Algonquin and Cold Spring roads redesigned as rental facilities were presented to the McHenry County Conservation District Board at its last meeting.

Staff also considered using the space for farmstands or a farmers market, but the area around Fox Bluff is saturated with them, Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler said.

The board is not at the point where it has finalized what its plans are.

A competitive analysis on the feasibility of a farmers market at Fox Bluff found 72 farmstands and 21 markets within a 20-mile radius.

While there also are 40-plus rental facilities in the same area, Kessler said there is an opportunity to take advantage of the historical and natural setting of the facilities. The range of buildings can house a variety of differently sized events.

This type of conversion also would open up space for the district’s own programs, said trustee Kent Krautstrunk of Crystal Lake.

Andy Dogan, a principal at PHN Architects, walked the board through the three buildings it recommended for further review, one of the dormitories, the recreation hall and the dining hall.

The smallest of the three buildings they looked at – the dormitory – could seat between 50 and 70 people.

The recreation hall, the building closest to the Fox River, hit “a real sweet spot, especially for wedding receptions,” in terms of size, Dogan said. It could seat 100 to 120 people at tables or more than 200 if set up theater style.

The dining hall is the newest structure. The basement could provide classroom-style spaces as well as a theater, Dogan said, and a large open space upstairs could seat 225 to 270 people.

The next step is getting cost estimates, Kessler said.

PHN Architects provided rough estimates for doing renovations that meet a higher “historic preservation” standard. The total project cost, including furniture, for all three buildings would be around $5 million.

Because of the cost, the district probably wouldn’t renovate all three buildings right away, said treasurer Bonnie Leahy of the Marengo-Union area.

Board members should keep in mind, though, she said, that this site is one of the county’s highest population-density areas and that it could be an investment in the area.

If you go

The preliminary draft plan will be presented at the McHenry County Conservation District Board of Trustees meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Brookdale administrative offices, 18410 Route 14, Woodstock.

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