Council considers incentive for Gander Mountain at old Circuit City space

Council considers incentive for Gander Mountain at old Circuit City space

CHAMPAIGN — The long-vacant Circuit City on North Prospect Avenue could get a facelift and a tenant if the Champaign City Council signs off on incentives for a new owner next week.

According to a city council memo, officials want to rebate as much as $575,000 in sales tax revenues to Terre Haute, Ind.-based Thompson Thrift, which would bring a Gander Mountain store to the old Circuit City space.

City council members will review the proposal after their regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

Thompson Thrift plans to spend $6.1 million to purchase and renovate the Circuit City space, which needs some extra repairs because it has been vacant so long, according to city documents. Thompson Thrift already has a deal in place with Gander Mountain to lease the space, assuming the purchase and deal with the city goes through.

The 38,836-square-foot commercial space at 2006 N. Prospect Ave. has been vacant since Circuit City closed in 2009. Since then, the building has been used for limited seasonal activity — most notably the Spirit Halloween store.

Thompson Thrift would buy the property for $3.1 million and spend about $3 million on renovations and repairs. The location is in particular need of repairs to its parking lot, roof and ventilation system at an extra cost of about $600,000 to Thompson Thrift.

It's because of that extra cost that city officials have said within the past few months they do not believe redevelopment of the old Circuit City space would happen without some kind of financial assistance.

If council members approve, the city would give the sales tax revenue generated by Gander Mountain to Thompson Thrift. The deal would end at a $575,000 cap or after seven years, whichever occurs first. City officials estimate they would hit the $575,000 cap after about five years.

The deal is not contingent on Gander Mountain opening in the space, though Thompson Thrift already has a letter of intent from the outdoor goods giant. City officials call the tax rebates "revenue neutral," in that they only pay out money generated by Gander Mountain. If the store never opens, the city never has to pay.

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