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Mayor talks future downtown improvements during roundtable

Cary Mayor Mark Kownick speaks Thursday at the annual Cary Business Roundtable in Cary.
Cary Mayor Mark Kownick speaks Thursday at the annual Cary Business Roundtable in Cary.

Cary Mayor Mark Kownick highlighted some improvements the village wants to make to its downtown district at the annual Cary Business Roundtable on Thursday.

The village will be working on “really showcasing” its downtown district in the not-too-distant future Kownick said at the event, which is hosted by the Cary-Grove Chamber of Commerce.

This includes street improvements, as well as adding catenary intersection lighting,park benches and other enhancements to the area, Kownick said, such as bumping down the sidewalk in front of Conscious Cup on 77 W. Main St. to make that more of a public gathering.

In addition, Kownick said, they want to put up a street art installation five foot letters that say “Cary” in that area, which could make for “a focal point.” The village also plans to take down the old Metra station, which was replaced by a new one last year, and make that more of public open space, so activities can be held there without closing a road.

Cary was given a grant from the Regional Transportation Authority allowing them to do some long term planning for the downtown district.

“I’m a big believer in our downtown district,” Kownick said. “Everybody, in every place you go to, they say [if there’s a] thriving downtown business district, the rest of your community will survive and thrive as well. You’ve got to have a focal point. That’s where we draw people in and then they come into the community and they see these things.”

Kownick said the village is hoping to start on the downtown improvements this year, but said this will be finalized at Cary’s budget workshop.

The village still is looking at the final figures as far as the cost of these changes, but Kownick said the best guess would be about $200,000 to $300,000.

Looking forward into 2020, Kownick said, several developments are in the works for the village.

This includes a new Thorntons on the Selke property, located on the south side of the intersection of Route 14 and Jandus Cutoff Road, which the Village Board approved, Kownick said.

“This is an exciting thing for the village,” Kownick said. “This will be the first eastbound gas station between Crystal Lake and Barrington. We feel like that will be very good business opportunity for them, as well as for the village because we do get gas tax and retail sales tax from there.”

In the past year, Kownick said, the village welcomed 13 new businesses, and 11 businesses expanded by acquiring new property or adding onto their buildings.

A lot of this is happening in the village’s industrial parks, Kownick added. Cary has three industrial parks, on Alexander Court, an industrial park and Industrial Drive and Cary Point.

“They want to stay here,” Kownick said.

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