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Huntley looks for developer to preserve historic mill

Huntley looks for a developer to preserve historic downtown building

Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – Village officials hope to find a developer interested in maintaining the structure of a 19th century mill in downtown Huntley that local historians had been working to preserve.

The Huntley Village Board signaled support last week for village staff to craft a proposal seeking developers interested in reusing the historic Sawyer-Kelley Mill at 11801 Main St.

Last year, the village acquired the property for $115,000 as part of its ongoing effort to make over Huntley’s downtown. Local historians at the time feared officials were planning to tear down the building to create parking spaces.

“The intent would be to keep the historical aspects of the building and see if there is a way to reuse it as that building,” Village Manager Dave Johnson said. “What we are doing is seeing if there is anybody out there that can make that building work for them in a viable business plan.”

If the village ultimately can’t find the right developer, officials would have to assess other uses for the building and see if those options align with the village’s revitalization plan, which calls for improving building facades, sidewalks and streetscapes throughout Huntley’s historic downtown.

Staff have been directed to draft a development proposal for the historic mill and present it to the board within a month, Johnson said. With final board approval, staff would then distribute the proposal to potential developers.

Built in the late 1800s, the Sawyer-Kelley mill originally belonged to W.G. Sawyer and John Kelley, two influential businessmen who were instrumental in developing Huntley after the village’s founding.

A cash-for-gold business and cleaning service operated out of the former mill when the village acquired it last year. Johnson said the decision to try and preserve the structure of the former mill was motivated through yearlong talks with the village’s historic preservation commission.

Commission chairwoman Donna Britton said members were excited to hear that village officials were interested in preserving the former mill.

“We love it,” Britton said. “The opportunity is available for someone who would like to come in with a plan to try and preserve this building.”

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