Huntley’s downtown businesses could get incentives for exterior upgrades

Facade program in works

HUNTLEY – A new program meant to add incentives for downtown businesses in Huntley to spruce up their exteriors could help jolt a downtown overhaul that village officials recently have begun unfolding.

Businesses within the historic Huntley downtown could start applying to the new facade program later this month, after board members tentatively supported the idea during a committee meeting Thursday. A final vote on the program is scheduled for next week.

The village would provide matching grants, up to $10,000, to any downtown business that wants to renovate the outside of its building. Officials for this year put $50,000 into the program, which covers roofing, landscaping, awning work and an assortment of other projects.

“There is certainly a need to reinvest in the core areas of the village, and I think we are trying to find all available avenues to do that,” Village Manager Dave Johnson said.

Officials have tinkered with the idea of a facade program for nearly three years after completing a downtown revitalization plan in 2010.

The board’s move now to create the program follows months of heightened downtown planning.

As work on the downtown makeover intensifies, trustees Thursday moved forward with about $750,000 in upgrades to the historic Sawyer-Kelley Mill at 11801 Main St. and the landscape changes to a prominent downtown street corner.

Trustees supported a $30,462 bid to demolish the former mill within the next six weeks. Before preparing to build an office space in its place, village officials will be able to salvage any items that may have historical significance from inside the mill.

Officials also want to make the planned landscape changes at the northwest corner of Route 47 and Main Street later this year after members gave the go-ahead to seek proposals. The improvements would add pathways and a line of trees at the corner.

All the activity means Huntley residents soon could start seeing changes to the historic downtown. Officials always wanted the streetscape changes to coincide with the new facade program, Johnson said.

Village staff in the coming weeks also will reach out to the downtown businesses and highlight the requirements and benefits of the new facade program, he said.

“There is an opportunity to not only make the streetscape improvements but also facade improvements to improve the overall appearance of the area,” Johnson said.

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