Brick by brick: New business development reshaping Cherry Valley's downtown

CHERRY VALLEY — As if the lazy-flowing Kishwaukee River, Baumann Park and a main drag paved in bricks aren't reasons enough to visit downtown Cherry Valley, The Bricks of Cherry Valley has arrived.

The so-named business development located at East State and Walnut streets is taking shape inside and out. The main building features eight East State Street-facing storefronts, each 1,200 to 1,400-square feet, ready to be occupied by small retailers and offices. A larger corner space was built to house a restaurant.

The Bricks 'n' Event Venue Center, a 6,500-square-feet building located just behind the commercial strip, opened this spring. It hosts a monthly indoor and outdoor market and can be rented for weddings, parties and company gatherings.

Co-owner and developer, Beth Schroeder, called the 16-month, $3.5 million transformation of the old Acme Screw industrial buildings "a labor of love."

From old factory to grand venue: The Bricks of Cherry Valley steeped in love for hometown

Village Administrator Jim Claeyssen described the work done by Beth and her husband, David, as a godsend.

"You've got Salamone's restaurant around the corner. You got the new Cattle and Cream ice cream and grocery store off Cherry Street," Claeyssen said. "So, when they took this on, I was like, 'Oh my goodness! This is great.'"

The Bricks has eight retail suites ideal for a coffee shop, bakery, salons and other businesses. Five of the eight units, Beth said, are already rented out and should be open for business late this summer or early fall.

A 4,300-square-foot space at the corner of East State and Walnut streets across from a baseball field is ready and waiting to be claimed by a restaurant.

Large overhead doors opening up to Walnut Street and foot traffic give the The Bricks a downtown, Wrigleyville-feel.

On top the restaurant is a 1,200-square rooftop patio decorated with planters made from recycled wood and steel.

"My neighbor helped me build them," Schroeder said. "He doesn't want me to say his name, but we started calling him 'pops.' So, I coined it, 'Pops Patio.'"

The venue center with its exposed wood-beam ceiling and refurbished crystal chandeliers can seat up to 349 people for dinner service.

Claeyssen dubbed the Schroeders the recycling "king and queen" noting the walls are made from recycled wood and how the couple took it upon themselves to buy a machine to strip the rubber from the copper wiring that powered the building.

"I mean, they recycled everything that they could," he said.

Missing from in between the main building and the Venue Center is a third structure, a sheet metal building and its "nasty, nasty loading dock," Beth Schroeder said, that was torn down. It's been replaced with new parking lot and fresh greenery.

"Ninety percent of the plants came from my neighbor's yard," she said.

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The impact of Schroeder's business on downtown Cherry Valley is becoming more and more noticeable as word of The Bricks and its venue building draw more and more attention from neighboring towns.

"Everybody is buzzing about it because it brings in traffic to the businesses downtown," Claeyssen said.

Chris Green: 815-987-1241;; @chrisfgreen

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Retail, office development taking shape in Cherry Valley