Local News

Sandwich officials expecting 2022 to bring new businesses, more homes

Sandwich Mayor Todd Latham is hopeful to see positive changes for the city in 2022, including new residential growth, the opening of new businesses and the revival of the downtown shopping district and more community events.

The city has not seen much growth in recent years. According to census data, its population decreased by 200 from 2010 to 2020.

The city has issued residential permits for 20 new homes since 2016, but Todd Steffens, city building official, is expecting a big jump this year.

Steffens said he expects 2022 to be the biggest year for new home starts in the city in more than a decade, mainly because of Ryan Homes, who has received city approval to develop the Fairwinds subdivision, a 76-home, lot subdivision on the city’s northwest side.

While only three residential building permits for new homes were issued in 2021, Steffens has been busy with an increase in home improvement projects since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In 2021, city residents were issued residential permits for 20 alterations, 53 fences, 13 pools, 15 decks, 13 sheds and 12 patios.

The number of permits for home improvement projects has risen steadily since 2019, Steffens said.

The city’s downtown business district has faced challenges throughout the pandemic.

“Business has been tough,” Latham said. “But we’re starting to emerge out of [COVID-19] and trying to get back to a vibrant shopping environment.”

The City Council has approved an outdoor dining ordinance, allowing all restaurants with proper space to implement outdoor dining, in an effort to accommodate COVID-19 regulations, as well as bring a new dining style to the downtown.

City officials also hope to bring in a new Scooter’s Coffee location. The coffee shop would be the first new franchise in the city in many years, Latham said.

“We’re looking for more downtown festivals and activities,” he said.

The city has plans for an antique weekend, a restaurant week, a flea market, and hopes to expand the Taste of Sandwich.

“We’re trying to bring more opportunity to our community,” Latham said.

City residents also will see an increased amount of road construction in 2022.

Latham said that businesses downtown will be inconvenienced by construction along Route 34 in 2022, but completion, hopefully, would, leave the city with an improved highway and lead to more opportunities for new business.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will be doing construction on Route 34 from Somonauk to Plano. Latham said the route’s construction would be paid for mainly by federal dollars with a small amount of local funds.

The city has a grant and local money to rebuild Latham Street for an estimated $3.2 million, from Route 34 to the edge of town.

The city is refurbishing a building at 1251 E.t Sixth St. that will become the new Public Safety Complex for the Sandwich Police Department. Latham said the construction, expected to be completed this year, is being funded by a $3.2 million bond and currently is on schedule and under budget.

City police also have plans for a pilot program to introduce and test new equipment including body cameras, Latham said.

The city has been approved for a $250,000 grant from the state for improvements and enhancements on city-owned buildings.

Latham said the city has applied for grants for revitalizing the shopping district and improving lighting downtown. They also have applied for a grant to improve safe routes to schools, improving sidewalks and accessibility.

The city also plans to bring back the 50/50 program for sidewalk improvements, in which the city will pay for half of residents’ sidewalk repairs.