Eyesore elimination: OTTO’s Roeser giving a hand to East Dundee
By Erin Sauder For The Courier-News May 24, 2012 9:08PM
A project is underway for a parcel of land that used to be the Dundee Lumber Company on Barrington Avenue in East Dundee. May 24, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:33AM
EAST DUNDEE — A local businessman is transforming a downtown eyesore into a parcel ready for development.
Tom Roeser, president of OTTO Engineering, approached the village about fixing up the site of the old Dundee Lumber Co. on Barrington Avenue that has been vacant since a fire about six years ago.
“After I finished kissing his hand I told him, ‘The village would very much like to work with you in that regard,’ ” said Village Administrator Robert Skurla.
Village officials have worked with Roeser in cleaning up the site, including weeding, removing telephone poles and seeding the area.
“It’s been turned into a park-like area until someone comes along to buy it and develop it,” Skurla said.
The site is zoned for business but could be rezoned for a townhome development, Skurla said.
“That would certainly not be out of the question to do,” he said. “Or any kind of retail or service business could go there. We just have to make sure the user would be compatible with our comprehensive plan for the downtown. Hopefully, we’ll attract someone who wants to develop it.”
Roeser has been instrumental in renovating the neighborhood in Carpentersville near OTTO, which designs and manufactures precision switches and control grips, and communications accessories. Roeser said he had a few reasons for fixing up the area.
“It’s good for Carpentersville, and it’s good for my business,” he said.
And he has his reasons for investing in neighboring East Dundee, which he calls a “very cute little town.”
“It’s part of this little region here I call my home and my employees call home,” he said. “If you look at the entrance into downtown East Dundee, the first thing you saw coming from the north side is a burned down area where the old lumber yard was.”
When he found out the property was for sale, Roeser decided to buy it.
“And if someone wants to buy it from me, that’s fine. In the meantime we’ll grass it up and put some trees on it,” he said. “If you clean up the entrance into the area, everybody will have a good opinion when you come into the area.”
But Roeser didn’t stop there. He also has purchased several other sites in East Dundee that he plans to renovate, including the vacant storefront at 320 River St., next to the offices of Charles J. Motl CPA & Associates and ZGraphics.
“It’s been empty for a long time,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Who’s going to buy that?’ So I did. It needs a little tender loving care. I’m going to fix it up and rent it out.”
Roeser said he gotten some interest from someone who might put an art gallery in the site.
“I want people that will bring people to downtown East Dundee so other businesses will flourish,” he said.
He also purchased the building that houses Scoo-B-Do’s pet grooming on Barrington Avenue.
“Scoo-B-Do’s is the perfect place for downtown,” Roeser said. “I bought it to make sure if Scoo-B-Do’s wanted to stay, they can stay.”
He lauds the support he’s received from East Dundee officials.
“They have made this easy,” he said, “and we have the same goal: Let’s just make this vibrant again.”