Fluid Events Center proposes offering outdoor events

CHAMPAIGN — After about 10 months of offering indoor events, the owner of the Fluid Events Center hopes to host a limited number of outdoor functions.

Jeff Grant outlined his proposal Wednesday to the Champaign Plan Commission.
The commission and city council would need to approve a special use permit to allow outdoor events and retail use at the site, since it is located in a commercial industrial zoning district.

Grant told the commission he would like to allow sheds used by the property’s previous occupant, Hundman Lumber, for outdoor farmer’s markets as the site’s ongoing farmer’s market grows from an indoor-only program.

Grant would also like to use the sheds for car shows and boat shows and utilize a grassy area on the west side of the property for films.

“We would like to offer the neighborhood a free movie in the park every Friday night,” Grant said. “It would have to be after dark.”

Grant said he envisions the grassy area also be used for outdoor weddings; a proposed Latin Independence Festival featuring singing and dancing and a Highland Games-type festival, featuring sword fighting, a tug of war and shot put contests.

Grant said concerts at the Fluid Events Center, located on Country Fair Drive, would only be held indoors.

“When big promoters spend big bucks on a band, the vast majority of them want it to be indoors,” Grant said.

No residents spoke out against Grant’s proposal on Wednesday. But Jeff Marino, a Champaign city planner, said city officials heard about citizen concerns at a neighborhood meeting June 9.

“The neighboring owners of residential properties, which are approximately 225 feet to the west, expressed concern about potential outdoor events taking place every day of the week,” Marino said.

Security plans would be submitted to Champaign police 30 days before any events expected to attract more than 500 people.

The special use permit would expire Sept. 1, 2015, to give everyone a year to see how the permit is working.

“We’ll get through the first year and see if there are any arguments,” Grant told The News-Gazette after the meeting. “It is not my intention to upset the neighbors at all.”

The commission decided to continue its discussion of the proposal at its July 2 meeting.
 

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