Champaign considers incentives for auto dealership move

Champaign considers incentives for auto dealership move

CHAMPAIGN — City council members this week could finalize a deal with the George Shapland family as they move their Carriage Center auto dealerships to Marketview Drive and prepare to redevelop that South Neil Street property.

The city could reimburse up to $6.2 million in tax revenues over the next 12 years if council members approve the deal they already supported in a July 2012 straw poll. They will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

Construction is already under way on the dealership north of Interstate 74, and Niemann Foods has already announced that a new County Market store plans to move in to the redeveloped Carriage Center lot.

When the $15 million dealership on Marketview Drive is completed, Ford City Ford-Lincoln and Worden Martin Buick-GMC will move to their new location.

All the city council needs to do is sign off on the tax incentives and the general plan for the redevelopment on South Neil Street.

If the council approves, the city would reimburse the Shaplands for certain taxes generated above what the city has already been receiving from their businesses — about $357,000 annually. Those reimbursements would be capped at $5 million or after 12 years, whichever comes first. If they hit the $5 million cap in the first six years, the cap would be raised to $6.2 million.

In a memo to the council, city administrators say the move is important to hold on to a Champaign auto dealer — a huge contributor of sales tax revenue. When Saturn and Nissan dealerships relocated in 1998 from Bloomington Road in Champaign to Savoy, that sales tax revenue went with them.

"Staff has made it a high priority since that time to guard the sales tax revenue received from existing auto dealerships in the city," according to the memo. "This project represents an opportunity to relocate successful auto dealerships in Champaign, to preserve existing sales tax revenue and grow additional tax revenue in the future."

In addition to the 42,000 square foot County Market store, the 17-acre Carriage Center site on South Neil Street would be home to a 3,000 square foot County Market Express convenience store and a 10,000 square foot Ace Hardware store owned by Niemann Foods. The $10 million project is expected to be finished in 2014.

The auto dealerships could move to their new, $15 million location on Marketview Drive this fall.

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