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.