Updated: County Market, Ace to anchor Carriage Center site

Updated: County Market, Ace to anchor Carriage Center site

UPDATED 6 p.m. Tuesday with remarks from Rich Niemann Jr.

CHAMPAIGN — New County Market and Ace Hardware stores will anchor the redevelopment of Carriage Center on South Neil Street, the president and CEO of Niemann Foods announced Tuesday. 
Rich Niemann Jr. said his company plans to build a 42,000-square-foot County Market supermarket on the 17-acre site that’s now home to Ford City Ford-Lincoln and Worden Martin Buick-GMC.
A separate, 10,000-square-foot Ace Hardware store, also owned by Niemann Foods, will be built north of County Market, with both stores facing Neil Street.
Also in the mix: a 3,000-square-foot County Market Express convenience store that will go up south and east of the supermarket, along Devonshire Drive.
“We’re so very excited to kick this off today,” Niemann Jr. said. “This is a good-sized project for us.”
The stores — expected to be completed sometime in 2014 — would employ about 150 people altogether, said Gerry Kettler, director of consumer affairs for Quincy-based Niemann Foods.
Kettler said the overall project is estimated to cost more than $10 million. 
Ford City Ford-Lincoln announced in November that it plans to relocate to a new 56,000-square-foot building at 701 W. Marketview Drive, C, possibly by Oct. 1, 2013.
About the same time, Illini Nissan plans to move from Savoy to a new 25,000-square-foot building at 615 W. Marketview Drive, C — just east of Ford City.
Worden Martin Buick-GMC is considering moving to the Illini Nissan building in Savoy, once the Nissan dealership makes its move.
The imminent departure of the dealerships from Carriage Center made the 17-acre site ripe for redevelopment.
The Niemann Foods project will occupy only about 6 of those acres, leaving 11 acres up for grabs.
Four lots on Neil Street, in front of the County Market store, are available for development, as are 4 acres north of Ace Hardware and an acre south of County Market, according to Tim Harrington of Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty.
He and colleague Matt Wavering marketed the Carriage Center site on behalf of developers George Shapland and Bergen Parkhill.
Harrington said the land along Neil Street is ripe for banks, sit-down restaurants, fast-food outlets and other businesses “looking for traffic.”
The lot to the south, on Devonshire Drive, could lend itself to office use, and the large tract north of Ace Hardware could prove attractive for a hotel or major retailer, he said.
Harrington underscored the importance of County Market to the overall development project.
“A 24-hour grocery changes the dynamics and draws in other retailers,” he said.
The Neil Street store would be the sixth County Market in Champaign-Urbana. Others are at 2901 W. Kirby Ave., C; 1914 W. Glenn Park Drive, C; 312 W. Kirby Ave., C; 331 E. Stoughton St., C; and 1819 S. Philo Road, U.
“Champaign has been a great community for us to do business in — a city that’s wonderful to work with — and we wanted to continue to grow and try to provide the best shopping experience” for area consumers, Kettler said.
The store is expected to draw shoppers from a 1.5-mile radius, as well as those who live farther away but regularly use Neil Street.
The County Market closest to the new site is the Kirby Avenue store, about eight blocks to the north. That store — a former Jerry’s IGA — was converted to a County Market in 2010. That location will remain open during the two-year period the South Neil site is developed. But the company anticipates consolidating the two stores operations sometime in 2014, Kettler told The News-Gazette.
Although some local County Markets sell fuel, the County Market Express planned for South Neil will be the first one in this area, Kettler said.
Niemann Foods, founded in 1917, operates stores in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. In February, it plans to open its 100th store, a County Market in downtown Springfield, Kettler said.
Among the store brands operated by Niemann Foods are County Market, Save-A-Lot, Ace Hardware, Pet Supplies Plus and County Market Express.
Niemann Foods is an associate-owned company that employs about 5,000.
News-Gazette reporter Christine des Garennes contributed to this report.

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Janet wrote on December 04, 2012 at 12:12 pm


vcponsardin wrote on December 04, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Do we really need another County Market?  When will Champaign/Urbana get a genuinely excellent supermarket?  This part of the country is about 50 years behind the times when it comes to upscale markets and top-flight grocery stores.  Why not an Andronico's?  I've seen Safeways in Colorado and California that put County Market and Schnucks to shame.  Even a Whole Foods or a Trader Joes would do. 

JRR wrote on December 04, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I would also love a Trader Joe's in C-U, but I'm told that the size of our community doesn't fit their business model.

vcponsardin wrote on December 04, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Probably true.  But I heard the same said about Starbucks ten years ago and now we've got several.  Companies like that tend to forget that this is a university town--with a lot of people associated with the university (as either students or employees) who have broader and more eclectic tastes.  I think at least one upscale market would do very well here. 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on December 05, 2012 at 1:12 am
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Your avatar looks nothing like Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin.

LocalTownie wrote on December 05, 2012 at 8:12 am

I'm glad there is a plan to develop that land, and a grocery store there sounds nice, but I agree with the others - couldn't we get something better than County Market? Perhaps this could be a "higher end" County Market. I'm very disappointed by the other Niemann stores, and frankly I think Schnucks is going downhill too. Several times in the last month I have found expired items on the shelves at the Glenn Park Drive County Market and at the Champaign Schnucks. I've never been to a Trader Joe's or a Whole Foods but people in this town have been begging for either for years. I'd love to give them a try.

Jeannette Beck wrote on December 04, 2012 at 5:12 pm
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I was hoping a Whole Foods store would locate here.  Not to be. 


pattsi wrote on December 04, 2012 at 7:12 pm

If memory serves me correctly, there was a grocery store near this new development area that failed. Now there is a Schnucks just south a bit. Is not the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?

Janet wrote on December 05, 2012 at 8:12 am

There was also an Ace in west Champaign that failed.  Do It Best is right up the street from this new location. I do shop at County Market because of its proximity to my home, but we really don't need another one. I miss even the small IGA on Kirby because it carried a lot of stuff CM doesn't carry. Yes, I was hoping for a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, but I would have been OK with anything different. 

I haven't checked statistics, but whenever this discussion comes up, I wonder how Madison, WI supports a Whole Foods and we can't.   

bernies wrote on December 05, 2012 at 10:12 am

Dane County, WI (home to Madison) has almost a half-million residents. Champaign County barely tops 200,000.

Lostinspace wrote on December 04, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Not good news for the folks who live near the former Jerry's IGA, which will probably close.


CU2012 wrote on December 04, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Why not a Hy Vee or  Kroger?

bluegrass wrote on December 05, 2012 at 9:12 am

Honestly this whole discussion has me shaking my head.  Does anyone ijunderstand the idea of free market principals and capitalism?  Do you all think there is some Obama Grocery Store Czar appointed to pick which grocery stores go in different locations?

County Market believes they can build a new store and make some money there, they have apparently negociated the lease or purchased the land, made arrangements to put up a building and stock it will groceries for sale to the public.  The end.

God forbid Jimmy John's might open a sandwich shop there..... Can you imagine the blowback then?


vcponsardin wrote on December 05, 2012 at 10:12 am

So now it's un-American to even express your preferences as to which supermarkets you'd rather see in your community?  Boy, Fox News must be getting desparate for viewers after the last election...

bluegrass wrote on December 05, 2012 at 11:12 am

Unfortunately, it's decidedly American to whine about a brand new grocery store being built in your town, which is the sad part about it.  


Mark Taylor wrote on December 05, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I know, right??????22???

They should be REAL AMERICANS and whine about what they call other people's whining.

That'll show 'em!!!!1!

I know it's frustrating to be a right winger now. But buck up. We're sure to win in 2014 with this kind of messaging!!!!

VOTE TEA PARTY REPUBLICAN -- WE'LL KEEP THOSE DANG OBAMAO CZARS OUT OF YOUR GROCERIES (when we're not dodging the black UN helicopters)!!!!!!!!!!!11!

Mark Taylor wrote on December 05, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Well, you're obviously a communistical FAKE AMERICAN socialistic and, like all those urban voters Paul Ryan complained about costing him and Mitt the election, not a REAL AMERICAN!!!!! I don't even think you people should be allowed to vote!!!1!

So, anything you say or do is, by definition, unAmerican!!!!1!

Janet wrote on December 05, 2012 at 11:12 am

No, not me, and actually I just learned how to write yesterday (which you can tell from my very short first comment).  I thought I was commenting about an article on a new store, not sitting in a marketing class.  p.s. I don't think we need another Jimmy John's there, either; there are too many of those, too.


bluegrass wrote on December 05, 2012 at 12:12 pm

You should apply for the newly created Federal Salted and Cured Meats and/or Tuna Fish Sandwich Shop Czar position opening up for the East Central Illinois Region, including parts of Western Indiana.  Rumor has it they're looking for someone to determine the exact number "needed" in this part of the country.

Good Luck!!

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 05, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Does every article in the news need to have a political opinion comment?  Thankfully; County Market, and it's employees have chosen to make a business investment in the vacant area.  If other stores of any kind wish to invest in the area; it will help with taxes, and employment.

pattsi wrote on December 05, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Oh, contreire, there is virtually no economic gain because the Kirby County Market will be closed and pressure will eventually cause at least one hardware store in town to close. The economic spending curve and economic need curve constantly and kinetically readjust. This will happen here because this community can not economically support too much economic expansion. We do not live in megapolis. We are isolated.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 05, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Well at least there was no tax break provided as provided to the previous occupant of the property.  County Market is not being given a tax break to relocate to a higher business traffic area.

pattsi wrote on December 05, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Maybe not this one, but what about 4th and Springfield? I have posted the following on my political web site and it pertains to this conversation.

On many occasions, I have recommended reading the book, The Great American Jobs Scam, written by Greg Leroy. This book, written by an economist for lay people, lays out the actual cost to communities when subsidies are used to stimulate economic development. Bottomline the return rate does not cover the outlay of monies. Now there is a 3-part series covering the same ground published in the NY Times. This series is getting a lot of press and a search on the internet brings forth how journalists in various states are using the data to analyze in depth what the costs have been for their respective state.

There are huge lessons both from the book and series for the county. Below are the references to the articles, interactive map, and Fresh Air interview with Louise Story, the series author.






Interactive map


Interview with Louise Story, NY Times reporter who wrote the series on Fresh Air with Terry Gross today 5 Dec and replayed at 7P WILL-AM



Sid Saltfork wrote on December 05, 2012 at 8:12 pm

You have a valid point.  I agree with you about the tax breaks.  They cost in the long run; and they have the smell of political, and business pork barrel corruption.

Mark Taylor wrote on December 05, 2012 at 5:12 pm


THAT is funny!!!!!!!!!!1!

And SO true!!!

I know, right?

We're heading for a dystopial communistic future of fasciustical socialistic statism at the hands of all these dang liberals and socialistics.

Watch out, people!!! THE KOMMISSAR'S IN TOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!

7lw7 wrote on December 05, 2012 at 4:12 pm


A new County Market is just so boring. I too would prefer a Trader Joes or Whole Foods, but that's probably just because my brain is infested with the liberal czar-desiring Obama virus. Ah, capitalism... the beautiful system that ensures we have CHOICES!!! Choices like, "Which County Market location will I go to THIS week!?” And the developers, also with great freedom of choice, ask themselves, “Where do we want to build a new structure so we can close down that other structure, leaving it empty for years!?” 


mpeters wrote on December 05, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Keep in mind the County Market at 312 Kirby was an IGA that could have easily been closed when County Market bought the local Jerrys a few years back but they didn't do that instead they renovated that store to make it much more user friendly i.e. self check registers.  When companies build new locations they are trying to better their piece of the market share and location in my opinion.  Any of these other companies would have equal opportunity to come to town and develop if they choose to do so there is other commercial land available.  County Market has been here and continues to reinvest in our towns all of their stores have either been updated or made new.  

Mark Taylor wrote on December 05, 2012 at 5:12 pm

That's ding dang right, Bluegrass!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!

This is UNCONTROVERTABLE PROOF that that dang ObaMao is taking over our grocery stores!! He's appointed yet another of his Czars, which NO PRESIDENT HAS EVAR DONE BEFORE!!!!!!!!11! And he's telling us what to eat.

Why, just the other day, I tried to buy a cookie and the Obammunist commissar at the gocery store threatened to put me in jail. It's coming, people. The black helicopters are on the way -- I CAN HEAR THEM RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE.

Your fear of grocery czars and Obama telling us where we can shop is TOTALLY RATIONAL and NOT AT ALL LOONY TOONS AROUND THE BEND CRAZYBUG!!!!!11!

It's a wonder right wingers like us are losing so much credibility in the minds of the ignorant, DemonRat plantation dwelling sheeple who, despite their IGNORANCE and DEPENDENCE are still, for some reason, allowed to vote. But don't let it get you down.

KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES (they're coming for us all)!!!!!!!!11!

Orbiter wrote on December 06, 2012 at 9:12 am

While it would indeed be nice to gain the diversity of a large grocery other than County Market, Schnucks, Meijer, and Walmart, I certainly have no objection to the CM choosing to build on the site.  What I dislike is the pending closure of the Kirby site, which serves those living in the immediate neighborhood who do not have their own automobiles or who choose to walk to shop. The new CM on Springfield Ave has been a terrific boon to the residents of the area, and I'm sure it's given a bit of a boost to the apartment rental rates there, too, for the convenience it offers (even if it's prices are a smidgen higher than elsewhere).  Similarly, the availability of a neighborhood market at the Kirby location caused that area to be of prime interest to me as I recently relocated.  If I'd just moved in, and found the market to be closing imminently, I would be a very disappointed renter.  And there is NO residential community immediately adjacent to the new site on S. Neil St.  Pity.

I wonder if the Kirby location would be considered by Walmart's "Neighborhood Market" concept chain? The NM's that I've visited elsewhere have been quite nice. Surely we need something in that spot to serve the adjacent residents.

rsp wrote on December 06, 2012 at 12:12 pm

All of the grocery stores are moving to the outskirts of town. You've heard the talk of food deserts? Because someone decided that urban sprawl was a good thing. Just abandon the core of the city. 

Lostinspace wrote on December 06, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Yes.  What is needed is not more large copycat supermarkets; there are plenty of those for people with cars.  Rather, we need more smaller neighborhood groceries like the Kirby CM, where people can walk to buy basic supplies.  I suppose tight zoning laws disallow that kind of development.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 06, 2012 at 2:12 pm

You have a good point.  There was a day when neighborhood grocery stores made a profit.  Many of the villages in the county have seen their one, and only store go out of business.  The residents are forced to drive to the Big Box stores now.  However, the local store could not make a profit only selling the basics.  People stocked up at the Big Box stores; and used the local store only for emergencies (toliet paper, milk, beer, smokes, etc....).  Casey's General Stores replaced the local stores in the villages.  Something along the lines of a Casey's in neighborhoods may make a difference; but only if people are willing to use them instead of driving to the Big Box stores.  A store selling the basics plus donuts, and coffee might make a go of it in certain neighborhoods.  The location would have to depend on walking customers.

I am really showing my age now because I remember as a kid going to the small neighborhood store, and even theatre.  They were within walking distance.  Of course, people walked more in those days.  Also, they didn't think twice about sending their 8 year old kid to buy a quart of milk, or a loaf of bread.  Yeah, I am old.....

rsp wrote on December 06, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I remember my aunt and uncle sending one of their kids to the store when they lived in Kemp, Il. They were 6 or 7 years old. The "store" was in the front of someone's house. That was also where the phone was if someone needed to make a call. The store gave credit, too. In an emergency you could leave a message for someone there. I was just a kid. I couldn't figure out how you could have a store in your house. Of course, by the time I hit school I learned to sell candy. Got in trouble. Was more careful. 

mmemartinez wrote on December 06, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I am someone who also would like to see a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. I totally get the numbers behind why a place like Madison can have one of those stores and we can't. But, also based on the numbers, how can our community manage to sustain 3 wal-marts, 2 meijers, 5 county markets and 3 shnucks? County Market and Schnucks have similar products, as do Wal-mart and Meijer. Then there's also save-a-lot and two Aldis...I guess this is more a plea to TJ's and Whole Foods but...really? You don't think you would make it here? I have trouble believing this if we can support so many grocery stores. Not to mention, the Co-op opened and Strawberry Fields manages to stay in business. Our population is growing, and with interest from college students it would seem that we would have the customer base to sustain a TJ's/Whole Foods, even if we don't have the population numbers they want. Or maybe I'm crazy.

pattsi wrote on December 06, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Ask yourselves how McLean County, aka Bloomington-Normal, supporta The Fresh Market, a hybrid of Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Read about it here   http://www.thefreshmarket.com/

Then there is Mariano's coming into Illinois, particularly the Chicago area right now, from Wisconsin. This store is trumping the likes of Jewel and Dominics. Read about it here    http://www.marianos.com/Default.aspx

Bart Basi wrote on December 06, 2012 at 8:12 pm
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I am biased as I own a small business, small businesses generate profits that stay in the community.  The profits that Wal-mart, Trader Joe's and County Market make leave the community.

Small business cannot compete head to head with large business.  My small business needs to do the tiny things the big companies cannot do; we source products that are produced in too small a batch for the large companies.

People vote with their dollars on what business they want to have here in Champaign.  Starbucks or Cafe Zojo?  Cheese & Crackers or Trader Joe's?  Checkered Moon or Amazon?

I make an effort to stay one step ahead, and one of my greatest advantages is my flexiblity.  I buy small amounts and can change on a dime.

I do hear people talk about Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  I don't really get it - between me (Cheese & Crackers), World Harvest, Strawberry Fields, Picadilly (on Neil), Art Mart, the CoOp and others - we have a great, wonderful, expanding local fine food presence.  

In spite of the efforts of UCSmiles.org and others; why are people driven to believe bigger is better?  Speaking for myself and World Harvest - we both have lower prices on Kalamata Olives than every single large grocery store in town.

The comments on this article about needing/wanting a big box retailer from out of town are disapointing.

ClearVision wrote on December 07, 2012 at 10:12 am

Suggestion: find out how to advertise more effectively. I'ma target customer and never heard of your place. Shouldn't take a random comment on an N-G web site to find out about your (Mindy's?) business.

increvable wrote on December 06, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Hear, hear. Common Ground, in particular, is doing great things that a big box retailer can't or won't do, especially with respect to supporting local farmers and creating retail jobs that have decent, consistently improving pay and benefits.

pattsi wrote on December 07, 2012 at 8:12 am

Point is well made concerning local merchants. The planning issue and logistics is related to getting to the various stores mentioned in the post. If only we recaptured the days of ole, large market with many businesses under one roof, aka Baltimore, San Francisco, Europe. A large venue where all of the businsses that you listed could have the individual stores and the shopper gets to patronize them without driving miles, using gas, and spending a lot of time doing so. Sprawl is one of the major "killers" of what you write.

rsp wrote on December 07, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Almost sounds like the farmer's market without the roof.

pattsi wrote on December 08, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Indeed, with a roof.  Very convenient.  Year round.  Great social climate and gathering space and musical entertainment. Just imagine if this had been the building plan for the corner of Neil and Main, C. Think about what that would do to revitalize downtown Champaign for all ages. Economic development. Gotta' think outside the box.  These venues in other cities are teaming with activity and great food.

Some examples:

Philadelphia indoor farmers market in the old Reading Railroad bldg in downtown Philadelphia     http://www.readingterminalmarket.org/

Baltimore--Lexington Market since 1782   http://www.lexingtonmarket.com/

(correction made as pointed out below--plus you detected that I am dyslexic.)

rsp wrote on December 09, 2012 at 3:12 pm

It sounds like the Farmer's Market could even be expanded year-round and these smaller local stores need to find a way to be there. What better way to be seen by a crowd than to go where the crowd is? Maybe for the first year a new business is open the fee is waived, and someone mentors them with some of the planning for getting there. Someone who also sells there. And they have handouts for their main location telling what all they do to tell about it. 

danrice56 wrote on December 07, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Has Mark Taylor broken into the administrator's offices at the local mental hospital, from where he posts his comments? Not to say his positions, but his insane ranting and raving at every comment he disagrees with, which I take he intends to be funny, but come off as the ramblings of a deranged internet troll.

syzlack wrote on December 08, 2012 at 9:12 am

The Lexington Mkt is actually from 1782. Geo. Washington slurped oysters there.   Many large cities have these facilities.  Soulard in St. Louis, Eastern Market in Detroit for instance.  But smaller cities have also built year round market and small shop facilities and districts.  Ann Arbor for instance.  And Lansing recently built the City Market location, an indoor facility with outside space for summer markets, which is just down the street from the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball stadium.  

The obvious place for one is Lincoln Square.  Underused parking already exists.  The coop is an emerging anchor with great potential, the urbana farmers market is well established and draws a great crowd.

If I were a planner (God Forbid!) for Urbana, I'd be trying to figure out a way to lure places like World Harvest and restaurants like Xihn Xihn into a common site to make it a must go-to destination that would profit from the synergies.   There's good locations for a baseball stadium around there, too!

increvable wrote on December 08, 2012 at 10:12 am

A baseball stadium? What location are you thinking of, exactly?

Also, I don't really understand how what you're describing differs from Lincoln Square.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 08, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Please, please... do not mention "a baseball stadium".   The two mayors will start competing on building a baseball stadium.   Leave it at a common market like Europe.  Something with food, entertainment, artists, pickpockets, and hookers.  Everyone gets a free net bag upon entering.  Berets would be optional.

Comments so far have been for stores within walking distance, big new chain stores, common markets with local produce, and stores close to the centers of communities.  The comments show differing wants.  However, only County Market is moving into the vacated car dealership area.  Let's not talk them out of it.  

JoeCOOL wrote on December 10, 2012 at 9:12 am
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Why was this site not thought of for a New Champaign Central High School?


JoeCOOL wrote on December 10, 2012 at 9:12 am
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Why was this site not thought of for a New Champaign Central High School?


JoeCOOL wrote on December 10, 2012 at 9:12 am
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Why was this site not thought of for a New Champaign Central High School?


Champaign Guest wrote on December 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

According to the article, the property containing the dealerships is 17 acres.  All the other sites under consideration are at least 40 acres, and most are at least 70.


rsp wrote on December 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

If they are going to raze the area anyway they could put the school in Bristol Park. I don't know the acrage but it's at least it's in town.