West Route 120 development slow in McHenry

McHENRY – Last year, the city administration crafted an “enhancement initiative” for the sluggish West Route 120 retail corridor.

But the “West Illinois 120 Corridor Enhancement Initiative” hasn’t generated new projects for the milelong stretch between Meadow Lane and Ringwood Road.

“We’ve gotten a couple inquiries, but we have no projects moving yet,” said Doug Martin, deputy city administrator.

Before the initiative was approved by the City Council in June, officials acknowledged the commercial stretch has been economically deteriorating for some time because of property and building obsolescence, dilapidated structures, incompatible land uses and lack of community planning.

“Since the 2004 construction of [Route 120], it’s taken a hard economic hit,” Martin said.

The city initiative offers financial incentives – including sales-tax rebates, property-tax abatements and waivers for permit and capital development fees – for new and existing businesses along the corridor.

Projects that qualify for assistance include interior remodeling, environmental remediation, relocation expenses for expanding businesses, infrastructure improvements, demolition and rehabilitation.

The city will review applications, with priority given to projects with the largest economic impact.

“This type of thing will take awhile,” Martin said. “But at least people are looking at it and calling about it.”

Although the city’s sluggish Route 120 retail corridor remains stagnant, other retail junctures have development under way.

The RoomPlace, a Chicago-
based furniture store, is expected to move into the former Borders building at 2221 Richmond Road.

The national bookstore chain closed its stores in McHenry and Crystal Lake in 2011 after filing for bankruptcy.

Company representatives anticipate the business to open in spring.

Also this spring, the city anticipates construction of a new O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 4611 W. Elm St.

On Route 31 in the McHenry Commons shopping center, a new sushi restaurant is slated to open this year.