East Dundee’s downtown in focus
By Erin Sauder For The Courier-News January 9, 2013 4:56PM
Downtown East Dundee along River Street. January 9, 2013 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 7:27AM
EAST DUNDEE — An ice cream parlor. Upscale dining. Boutiques. A grocery store.
These are just some of the suggestions that local business owners have for filling the vacant buildings in East Dundee’s downtown.
“I think an upscale restaurant would be nice — something to carry the village through the winter,” said Tom Tyrrell, owner of the East Dundee Dairy Queen.
He was one of several business owners to attend a forum hosted by village officials Wednesday afternoon at the Anvil Club to discuss the future of the village’s downtown redevelopment.
“We have plenty of places to stop and grab a drink,” Tyrrell said. “What we need now is some higher-end restaurants in town.”
Craig Zachrich from the Anvil Club said he would like to see a boutique or an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
But regardless of what ends up in the downtown, he’s happy to see the concept taking shape.
“Anything that can bring people to the downtown is going to be good for everybody,” he said. “Everybody should be excited about it.”
Village officials have long discussed how they can make East Dundee more vibrant. Now, with the help of Tom Roeser, president of OTTO Engineering in neighboring Carpentersville, they are ready to move forward with making the downtown a notable Fox Valley destination.
Already, Roeser has bought and renovated several sites in the village to make them ready for development. He also has donated property on the east side of Meier Street, between the bike path and the street, so the village can “clean up the west side of Depot Square,” and he has contracts on two other properties in that area he plans to renovate as needed.
Recently, East Dundee village trustees gave preliminary approval to a public/private partnership focused on enhancing the Depot Plaza Square area, in which Roeser will play a key role. The plans include concepts for public improvements as well as private development projects.
Proposed amenities for the area — which includes Barrington, Meier and River streets — include a children’s splash pad, a removable ice rink, a restaurant, retail and even an upscale apartment complex.
Locals and visitors
Scott Harrington, a consultant with Vandewalle & Associates, led Wednesday’s discussion.
He said the purpose of the redevelopment is to benefit both residents and visitors.
“One of our objectives is to give residents something they can take advantage of — create something of value and useful for the community,” he said.
But in order to support businesses that come into the village, Harrington said it would be advantageous to draw people in from surrounding towns such as Algonquin and Barrington.
Joe Zeller, who owns Zeller Marketing & Design with his wife, LouAnn, in downtown East Dundee, is excited about the redevelopment plan.
“What East Dundee really needs is good, unique retailers that will make (the village) a destination people want to visit,” he said.
While the redevelopment plan is exciting for the downtown business owners, it is not without its criticisms.
Some attending the forum expressed concern about the downtown’s parking shortage, especially if an apartment with several tenants is built.
Harrington said the village is sensitive to the parking issues.
“We hear different things about what times of day are better or worse,” he said. “We’re interested in all thoughts of where parking should be and when.”
He added that the apartment complex would have parking underneath the building for tenants.
Others expressed concern about the proposed apartment complex and how it would impact property values.
“This would not be any kind of low-end unit,” Harrington said. “The goal here is for property values to go up.”
He said the complex would house higher-end units that likely would range in price from $1,200 to $1,300 a month, plus an additional fee for parking.