Champaign council backs auto dealer incentives

Champaign council backs auto dealer incentives

CHAMPAIGN — City council members on Tuesday night supported a financial incentive package of up to $6.2 million that would move an auto dealership north of Interstate 74 and open a "choice future development site" on South Neil Street.

Ford City, and possibly other auto dealerships owned primarily by the Shapland family of Champaign, would move from the south side of Champaign to tracts on the north side of the city, east of Prospect Avenue and north of I-74 that once housed a Mitsubishi dealership, a Best Buy store and a number of smaller businesses.

That would open Carriage Center on South Neil Street, which Craig Rost, deputy city manager for economic development, called a key property near the University of Illinois, for redevelopment.

To make the move economically feasible, city officials likely would reimburse taxes greater than $300,000 annually at the two sites — that amount is roughly the revenue stream the sites generate now.

The incentive package, the specific details of which city officials are still negotiating with the Shapland family, would expire after 12 years or when tax reimbursements reach as much as $6.2 million, whichever occurs first.

Owner Charlie Shapland reminded city council members that the deal does not require any upfront cash investment from the city.

"This is a pretty big deal for us," Shapland said.

He said, if the agreement moves forward, the family hopes to break ground within the next few months and open at their new location in roughly 18 months. The city council will need to finalize their approval when administrators return within the next couple months with the specific details of the incentive package.

"I think this is a great way to develop two areas of the city in a way that will change things for the better," said council member Deborah Frank Feinen.

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serf wrote on July 25, 2012 at 6:07 am

That's a mighty big welfare check.

rsp wrote on July 25, 2012 at 9:07 am

Yeah, but how long have those properties in north Champaign sat empty? And how much in taxes would Champaign collect if they moved outside of the city? I just wonder what guarantees are in the agreement. There have been times when parties didn't live up to their agreements for any number of reasons. So I imagine the have some in there.

Ozwald wrote on July 25, 2012 at 10:07 am

Curious how the article states that NO monies will be paid to the dealer up front.  Seems like the City is coming out ahead here.  However lets just keep driving local companies to other towns who needs em.  Good call on the "welfare check"  comment.  Spoken out of a truly one sided and narrow minded perspective.  I truly hope people see the benefit of having an eyesore like the proposed site cleaned up and a redeveloped area on south Neil street.


serf wrote on July 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm

It was said halfway in jest, but....

I do find it ironic how certain folks become absolutely livid about giving someone $200 a month for food but don't bat an eye about businesses getting millions in handouts.

Sid Saltfork wrote on July 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm

It can be debated back and forth on whether it is a good deal for Champaign.  It is a trend just like the State of Illinois giving breaks to the CME, and Sears.  A business implies that it may move to another municipality, or state if it does not get a financial break.  The governmental enity jumps in, and gives a deal for them to stay.  Whether it works out for the governmental enity is unknown; but it sure works out for the business.  With governmental money tightening up, and services like fire protection and public safety being cut; an agreement between states, and municipalities needs to occur.  They need to agree to not to be coerced into giving financial breaks to businesses for all of their common good.  Businesses succeed, or fail based on their own.  When government subsidizes businesses at the expense of public needs, it is foolish.  Only the larger businesses get the breaks because they pay more taxes.  Well, they make more profit also.  When they vacate one area for another, the empty building sits there.  I drove past the closed Pages for All Ages building today.  It is still empty.  Would they still be in business if they had been given a similar deal to relocate?  Where does it end?

pattsi wrote on July 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

One more time, I suggest that each and every resident of this county read Greg Leroy's book, The Great American Jobs Scam. This book, written by an economist for the lay reader, places forth the arguments against such incentives and offers alternatives to stimulate economic development.

Mqqneyes wrote on July 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm

  If the carriage center is such a "choice" and "key"  site then why do they want to leave it? The problem with the new site is it was just horrible to get in and out of, so is the city gonna dole out the money to fix the traffic problem too? Nothing is ever said for exsisting SMALL business in town when they decide to block off a street for a week while fixing something to accomidate a new big business that they have just given tax breaks to. I think the council is on the wrong path. Moving a car dealer to another spot is not going to make the city any more money from them...just less. Tearing apart part of downtown to the detriment of exsisting business's for a year is not good at all. But you won't find any tax credits for these real small business's just blocked off streets and no daytime traffic.


citydweller wrote on July 25, 2012 at 9:07 pm

The bottom line in this story is local multi-millionaire gets tax incentives to move his businesses to a more "advantagous' location he currently owns and has owned for several years and gets additional incentives to redevelop the land the dealerships are on now.

This plan has been in the works for several years as "The Family" has been buying up the properties on Marketview and Anthony Drive and also buying the Hill Ford location so they would own all of Carriage Center to redevelop it eventually.

There wasn't any chance of them moving out of the city, they already spent millions buying all of the land north of the Interstate. They will likely build a hotel/convention center with a strip-mall shopping area attached at Carriage Center.

Obviously, they are spending millions of dollars to make all of this happen and have chosen to invest in this community and the Shapland's have a long history of premium development here in Champaign and it is difficult to fault them for that. But I am confident that these projects were going to happen regardless of the ability to get incentives. It's already way past the turning around point and the auto manufacturers want those dealerships in a high-traffic and high-profile location near their competition, regardless of brand.

This move was going to happen, they just got the city and the taxpayers to help them out.      

Mark Taylor wrote on July 30, 2012 at 10:07 am

It's a good thing these rugged individualist capitalists can do it all on their own without a lick of corporate welfare support paid for by the rest of us, including those of us who might be public employee moochers, huh?

They doing this ALL ON THEIR OWN!!!1!

Tea Party.!!1! Woo Hoo!!!!

Barbara44 wrote on July 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm
Profile Picture

more and more interesting

Sid Saltfork wrote on July 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Nice looking cat.