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Trustees, residents weigh in on developing space at former Huntley Outlet Center

HUNTLEY – Hotels, restaurants and retail are just some of the options Huntley residents and trustees want to see at the former Huntley Outlet Center property.

But a changing retail marketplace has prompted developers to look outside of the mall’s previous use.

Capital Companies LLC President Rich Turasky, a Lake in the Hills resident, has said he and other property owners would like to turn the space into an office, research and industrial district, such as warehouse space.

However, the Plan Commission and Village Board have the ultimate say, as members would need to approve a rezoning agreement. The space currently is zoned for retail. 

Demolition has begun on 8 of the 77 acres of the property that were sold to General RV for an expansion. Turasky said developers hope to have the portion demolished by Oct. 1.

Village Manager Dave Johnson said an incomplete rezoning application was submitted to the village at the beginning of August, and the village still is waiting on a new application to be submitted.

Many residents expressed a want for a hotel, adding that people visiting residents in Del Webb have nowhere to stay. Trustee JR Westberg said a hotel could help Huntley High School bring Illinois High School Association-sanctioned events to its field house and have people stay overnight from across the state.

Trustee Ronda Goldman said she would love to see a mixed-use space, featuring office and commercial space along with a boutique hotel and some restaurants and shops.

“It would be great for the residents, the tax base and for jobs, and it would certainly bring people to the corridor of Route 47, while also benefiting neighboring towns,” Goldman said.

In its heyday in 2002, the center generated $346,743 in sales tax compared with $124,884 generated in 2015, according to village documents.

“Unfortunately, there are zero dollars coming in sales tax-wise currently, but the change of zoning to ORI [office, research and light industry district] would significantly impact in a negative way the village’s ability to generate sales tax,” Johnson said.

Westberg said he’d like to see a mixed-use development, featuring a movie theater and entertainment venue such as Dave & Buster’s, along with space for athletic programs such as a dance studio and indoor soccer arena.

“If you draw the children and athletics in, mom and dad could drop them off for a few hours and have a nice meal or go see a movie,” Westberg said. “This would draw attention from people outside of the community and make it more of a destination than a one-stop shop.”

He said he will oppose big-box industrial space, such as the Weber Grill distribution center, because the area deserves to be a marquee corner as people enter town.

“I think we could do better,” Westberg said. “This needs to be a cornerstone with substance to it other than office space. We have plenty of other spaces throughout our town for industrial use, but that corner needs to be a spotlight.”

The center, located at Route 47 and Interstate 90, sits along a $61 million full interchange opened in 2013, which has inspired the village to create a draft plan to guide future land use and development of the area.

Village staff and planning consultant firm Houseal Lavinge Associates will host a feedback meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Huntley Municipal Complex, 10987 Main St.

Johnson said the focus of the draft plan is on the hundreds of acres that surround the intersection, but the outlet center property on the draft plan still shows commercial use.

“That is different than what developers have proposed, so it will be important and good to obtain feedback for that property and other spaces and get public input,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the village has had good dialogue about other development options, but officials understand the “challenges associated with retail and other development in today’s world.”

“The outlet mall and retail business has drastically changed because of the internet and how people are buying their retail products,” Turasky has said.

Lake in the Hills resident Amy Blozinski said that between the outlet center and several stores at Algonquin Commons closing, Huntley residents are left with limited options about where to shop.

“It now takes an hour or more to drive to the same stores somewhere else,” Blozinski said. “It’s a shame the property wasn’t sold to someone else and improved upon years ago.”

Melissa Albright, who lived in Huntley for 20 years, said she is in favor of industrial and corporate space because it would bring more job availability. 

Albright said a business such as Chase Bank or Fisher Nuts on Randall Road could bring younger people to the area and bring back money into the economy. 

“A lot of people graduating college are moving closer to Schaumburg for opportunities now,” she said.

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