This time next year, Algonquin's downtown Main Street will look dramatically different thanks to a multimillion-dollar facelift.
Streets and sidewalks will be reconstructed with brick pavers. Overhead utilities will be gone. Streetlights and decorative features will be enhanced. A plaza and additional seating areas will be created.
"It's going to look like a very traditional, nice downtown area," Assistant Village Manager Mike Kumbera said. "Very walkable and pedestrian-friendly."
The village board voted 5-1 this week to authorize a $9.1 million contract with Rosemont-based Burke LLC for the first major construction phase of its downtown redevelopment plan. The work is expected to begin in January and be complete by mid-December, Kumbera said.
The upgrades focus on the stretch of South Main Street between Route 31 and Algonquin Road that incorporates the village's primary downtown business district, he said. In addition to aesthetic enhancements, the project includes burying utilities, replacing the water main and sanitary sewer, and improving drainage.
"We've got a lot of parks down there and some very attractive buildings," Village President John Schmitt said. "Now we're investing in the infrastructure of downtown so it becomes more of a destination."
Plans also include the construction of the Main Street Plaza next to the historic village hall and the Mineral Springs seating area near Towne Park. Those features, as well as other streetscape improvements, initially were planned for a later phase but moved up for efficiency reasons, Kumbera said.
Nearly $5 million in capital expenses has been earmarked for downtown work this fiscal year, which ends April 30, according to village documents. The remaining costs will be included in next year's budget.
Trustee Laura Brehmer voted against the contract with Burke, saying she'd like to search for more cost-effective ways to beautify downtown. The money saved could go toward fixing streets in other parts of the village, she said.
"I completely agree that something needs to be done to revitalize the downtown area," she said. "I would just like it to be at a lower cost."
The reconstruction of a bridge over Crystal Creek also is incorporated in this project phase, though it's not included in the contract, Kumbera said. Village officials are seeking federal grants "to make it more affordable locally," he said.
Future phases, currently being engineered, include the redevelopment of North Main Street and Harrison Street, Kumbera said.
Streetscape project plans began to take shape after the Route 31 western bypass was completed in 2014, he said. With heavy traffic redirected, the village could focus on transforming its historic downtown into a space suitable for commerce, events and recreation.
"That gave us the opportunity to make this more of a traditional downtown," Kumbera said. "The goal is to spur private development, make businesses successful and make this a real destination for the region."