East Dundee is allowing private establishments to rent The Depot plaza for public events in hopes of generating more foot traffic in the downtown district.
For years, visitors have gathered at The Depot, 319 N. River St., for markets, festivals, car shows and other popular events hosted by the village. The property along the Fox River Trail also serves as the Dundee Township Visitors Center.
Hoping to attract more people to the area without bearing the brunt of the work, village officials are encouraging businesses and organizations to use the site for their own events -- as long as they're open to the public and could spur local economic activity, Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said.
"The goal is to allow others to host events and do what we would like to do without us having to incur the costs," she said.
Leading the charge is Village President Lael Miller, whose downtown antique shop, Midwest Retro, is organizing a vintage market at The Depot this month.
The "Stuff with Style" event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 27 will feature roughly two dozen vendors offering curated vintage and handcrafted goods, Miller said. His co-host is East Dundee resident Joy Frey-Waltmire, who runs the SavvyCityFarmer blog.
Outside food and beverage vendors won't be provided, Miller said, noting patrons will instead be encouraged to visit local bars and restaurants.
Organizers expect to hold more vintage markets throughout the year if all goes well, he said. The event could help fill a gap in the schedule after the village canceled its weekly farmers market earlier this year.
"We decided we're going to do what we can to fill up a couple of Sundays," Miller said. "It's going to be a very upscale, well-presented event, and we're looking forward to it."
Since announcing his upcoming market, Miller has received a handful of inquiries from other local businesses interested in hosting gatherings.
Renting the entire Depot property costs $50 per day for East Dundee residents and $100 for nonresidents, according to an ordinance approved this week by the village board.
Using either the building or the outdoor park costs $25 for residents and $50 for nonresidents.
Additional daily fees include a $100 security deposit and $25 for musicians to access power.
The space cannot be used for private parties or political functions, Johnsen said, noting that the village will determine which events are issued permits. Organizers are required to submit proof of insurance and an application outlining details of the proposed event, including a site plan, anticipated attendance, alcohol sales and entertainment.
"What I wanted to do was set this up as a precedent so that other businesses could step up and take over some of the events downtown instead of the burden being solely on the village," Miller said. "It's a beautiful space, and it really lends itself well to these types of events."