Huntley trustees like concept of restaurant at old Village Hall, split on design

Huntley Village Board heard concept presentation for the redevelopment of its old village all at Thursday’s meeting

Former Huntley Village Hall at 11704 Coral Street, in Huntley, on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. Huntley officials are hearing a conceptual review for redeveloping the old Village Hall into a new restaurant.

Huntley’s old Village Hall could soon be turned into a restaurant, repurposing the building nearly two decades after the village vacated it.

The Village Board heard a concept presentation on the pitch during its meeting Thursday. Any approvals would come at later meetings.

The potential redevelopment would mean the current tenants, the Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce, will be left to find a new home, Village Manager David Johnson said Thursday.

The village approached Wauconda-based True North Properties Inc., which has done several redevelopments across McHenry County, including in Crystal Lake, Cary and elsewhere in Huntley, about pursuing the project, Johnson said. It also opened the development up for outside proposals but received none.

True North is converting the old Catty property into an apartment building, while in Cary, it is redeveloping the Kraus Senior Center. In Crystal Lake, the company converted the Immanuel Lutheran campus into apartments.

For its newest proposal, the company proposes keeping the two-story building intact but tearing down the single-story portion in the back of the property, according to village documents. A new two-story addition would be added to provide additional seating, a banquet area and kitchen space.

That addition would also provide for public restrooms that could be used during downtown events, according to village material.

Former Huntley Village Hall at 11704 Coral Street, in Huntley, on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. Huntley officials are hearing a conceptual review for redeveloping the old Village Hall into a new restaurant.

At the meeting, trustees said were supportive of the concept but were split on the proposed design.

Current renderings have the building maintaining its current brick, with new additions including fiber cement on the middle portion and new brick covering the rear, according to village documents.

A few trustees, including trustees Ronda Goldman, J.R. Westberg and Harry Leopold, said they preferred to have the building covered in brick.

Westberg said he felt the middle piece would look “just fine” if it had the same brick as the rear of the building.

“It looks good. I just wish the back half matched the middle,” Westberg said.

Meanwhile, trustees Mary Holzkopf and Curt Kittel, along with Village President Tim Hoeft, said they liked the variety on the building.

Kittel said he felt the mismatched brick was a good representation of the village’s downtown because of the variety in the area.

“I think doing it the way you have it ... gives each building its own character,” Kittel said.

Trustees were not required on Thursday to give their support one way or another for the project. Before it gets any thumbs up from the village, it will have to go through the village’s Plan Commission and back to the Village Board before final approval.

An proposed rendering of the old Huntley Village Hall, which could be turned into a restaurant if approved by the Village Board. Trustees heard the first proposal for the project at its April 13, 2023 meeting.

The fact that it’s going to be repurposed into something to serve the community is great.

—  Huntley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Binger

The village vacated the property in 2006, and in the years that followed, saw it used as a gathering spot for a few different community groups, Johnson said. However, it wasn’t used much, and in 2011, the Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce took it over. It still occupies it today.

Chamber Executive Director Nancy Binger said the potential development is exciting, calling the spot “prime real estate” in the village. The chamber, with its lease set to end June 30, has started to look for a new home.

“The fact that it’s going to be repurposed into something to serve the community is great,” Binger said. “So we’re excited.”

Thursday’s proposed development marks the first for the building since the village left it, Johnson said. The entire process of approval for the redevelopment, which includes selling the property to True North, could take two to three months.

The village will likely sell the property to the developer for $1, and in exchange, pair it with a development agreement that will bring with it certain requirements, Johnson said.

If the project does receive the village’s blessing, it will add another entry to a growing list of stops in Huntley’s downtown corridor, which the village in recent years has prioritized for growth and redevelopment.

In addition to the Catty property, Huntley last year approved the redevelopment of an old fire station into a restaurant and apartments, with both projects slated to be done in the summer.

Earlier this year, officials said the village was eying two vacant lots that could be converted into public spaces for a number of uses, including outdoor dining and seating.

Those lots, just off Woodstock Street and next to Coral Street, sit next to a string of businesses, including the fire station redevelopment and then new Lincoln House and Co. coffee and wine bar expected to open this year.

CORRECTION: This story was updated to correct where Truth North Properties is based. It is a Wauconda-based business.