If you've noticed new buildings going up on South Neil Street in Champaign just north of Car-X Tire and Auto Service, you've seen the first vestiges of SARUS Galleria.
Dr. Sohail Chaudhry and his family plan to develop three commercial buildings on the property, suitable for retail, office and restaurant use.
So far, no leases have been signed, but Chaudhry said he's had interest from both a restaurant and an insurance agency.
As mentioned in this column in June 2011, Chaudhry plans a 9,000-square-foot building on the north end of the property offering up to six different commercial spaces.
Plans call for two smaller buildings to the south, with about 1,800 and 2,300 square feet.
The northernmost building should be complete by the end of this year or early next year, Chaudhry said.
The foundations and slabs for the other two buildings are in, but construction won't begin on those buildings until the northern one has leases.
"We are very confident we will not have difficulty filling these spaces very soon," Chaudhry said, citing the high-visibility location near the Shoppes of Knollwood and construction standards applied there.
Savoy land deal
The developers of Marketplace at Savoy have acquired a key property to the west.
TBR Enterprises got title to the Reliable Mechanical property at 509 W. Curtis Road, according to a real estate transaction recorded Sept. 5.
Todd Raufeisen of TBR said Reliable Mechanical has six months to find a new home and nine months to move. In the meantime, Raufeisen continues to be in negotiations with a grocery store interested in the Savoy location. He would not identify the store.
Marketplace at Savoy also includes a CVS pharmacy under construction at the southwest corner of U.S. 45 and Curtis Road and a McDonald's restaurant to be built adjacent to CVS.
So long, it's been Real
Alex Lo, owner of the former Cocina Real building at 1106 W. University Ave., U, said he'd like to attract a restaurant — possibly a national chain — to that location.
So far, he has had inquiries about the building, but no new lease.
Lo said he worked with McDonald's for about a year before the fast-food chain decided the site was too close to some of its other locations.
He said the owners of Cocina Real were aware of those negotiations, and although the Mexican restaurant was doing "pretty well," it cut back on advertising.
Lo said he believe Cocina Real's last day of business in Urbana was Aug. 31. The restaurant's other locations are in New Berlin, Wis., and Brookfield, Wis., and Lo said the Urbana restaurant was, more or less, "an outlier."
Sunday photo shoots
A Chicago-based business is teaming with Champaign-Urbana photographers to offer a photo shoot for local professionals and job seekers.
Chicago-based Kring Lerner Group is partnering with Champaign's Darrell Hoemann Photography to offer BizPics shoots at CU Studio Share, 110 S. Race St., U, on Sunday, Sept. 30.
The shoots are scheduled from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. that day. The deadline for registration is Friday.
BizPics shoots are described by Karen Kring of Kring Lerner as "part-portrait and fashion workshop" and part-networking event.
This month's shoots will be hosted by photographers Darrell Hoemann and Della Perrone, with make-up artist Deborah Stewart. Styling services will be available.
Participants are encouraged to be creative at the shoots and to consider bringing a friend. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information, contact Karen Kring at 847-869-3344.
Hoemann is The News-Gazette's photo editor, but the project is not affiliated with the newspaper.
Funeral homes change hands
Matt Blurton has acquired Wolfe Funeral Homes in Potomac and Hoopeston from Rodger Wolfe and is now operating them as Wolfe-Blurton Funeral Homes.
Blurton, who acquired the business Sept. 7, said Rodger Wolfe is now "semi-retired" but will continue to work with him over the next few years.
"Everything's going to stay the same," Blurton said. "We'll continue the tradition of caring expected from Wolfe."
Originally from Vandalia, Blurton said he became interested in the funeral business because his dad, Gary Blurton, was once Fayette County coroner.
The younger Blurton studied mortuary science at Vincennes University in Vincennes, Ind. He has been a funeral director for 12 years, the last nine years at Sunset Funeral Home in Danville.
"It's been my lifelong dream to own a funeral home," he said.
Blurton said his wife, mother and father will help him in the business. The phone numbers for Wolfe-Blurton remain the same: 987-6425 for the Potomac chapel and 283-5088 for the Hoopeston chapel.
Rodger Wolfe's father, Donald Wolfe, opened his first funeral home in Rankin in 1974 and acquired the Potomac funeral home in 1977. He opened the Hoopeston chapel in 1994.
Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.