Former fire station in Huntley may need to be rebuilt for development

Village Board set to consider demolition request, modified plan Thursday

The former Fire Station 1 of the Huntley Fire Protection District at 11808 Coral St. in Huntley on Thursday, March 10, 2022. A new development that calls for the renovation of the village's old fire station downtown was approved Thursday by the Village Board. The plan calls for three stories to be added to the building, as well as renovations to prepare it for mixed use, including a restaurant on the first floor and residential on the upper floors. The plan is a key part of the village's plans to redevelop its downtown area.

The decades-old former fire station in downtown Huntley may be demolished despite the Village Board originally approving plans that would have seen it transformed into an apartment building, village officials said.

The Village Board is set to consider the request from developer Billitteri Enterprises LLC at its meeting Thursday that would see a similar structure rebuilt with, as previously approved, three additional stories on top, village documents show.

Tearing down the building would ultimately keep both the cost and timeline of the project the same, Village President Tim Hoeft said.

Fire Chief Scott Ravagnie called the potential demolition “disheartening,” saying no one is excited about the building being lost. But after the building sat on the market for a year with no buyers, it seems like the options were narrowed, he said.

“It would have been awesome to be preserved,” Ravagnie said. “I started my career in that station in 1986.”

The idea for tearing down the building, which more than 60 years old, started when Billitteri began work on the development and found it would be “cost-prohibitive” to make the adjustments needed to allow for the additional stories, as opposed to starting from scratch, Hoeft said.

Outside of a different colored brick, which will mean painting the new building to match the current building, the new structure would have a similar appearance to the existing one, Hoeft said.

“The footprint [of the new building] would be the same, everything would be the same,” he said.

When the Huntley Fire Protection District left the building in September 2020 after outgrowing it, it was in good condition, Ravagnie said. However, fire officials knew the walls in their current state weren’t strong enough to hold an additional three stories, which would have required various additions like beams to make them supportable, he said.

If the building does come down, it will mean losing a structure that’s been in the village since 1958. It has historical significance, Hoeft said, but it fulfilled its purpose of being a one-story firehouse.

“When we looked at the development possibilities there, that was one of the things I liked, … that there was a chance to save this building,” Hoeft said.

The plan to redevelop the site was approved back in March, and called for three new stories consisting of apartments to be built on the original one-story structure. The ground-floor level would be transformed into a restaurant, which is expected to house a D.C. Cobbs.

The building was sold to the village from the fire district for $375,000, and the village in turn agreed to sell a portion of the site, containing the building, to Billitteri for $10.

As part of the agreement, Billitteri is expected to invest at least $5 million into the redevelopment.

The original timeline had the shell of the building being completed by the end of this year, with the restaurant scheduled to open by the end of June 2023.