Work on Champaign's New Market Commons to start this year

Work on Champaign's New Market Commons to start this year

CHAMPAIGN — The industrial building at 500 N. Walnut St. near downtown is gearing up for a modern face-lift.

The about-36,000-square-foot property will be redeveloped into New Market Commons, with exterior construction starting this year. The $4.1 million project by New Market Commons LLC was approved by the Champaign City Council this week. It will create leasable commercial spaces that tenants can buy and build out, interior-wise, as they see fit.

New Market Commons' Tom Harrington said exterior construction should last a matter of months, weather permitting. Mock-ups of the new facade show a darker and sleeker look for this mostly white building.

"We're excited about changing what's been a very average-looking industrial building," Harrington said Thursday. "Having a modern take on a warehouse district kind of look ... with new windows and storefronts."

His other planned crowd-pleaser: more parking. The building has about 20 spaces, and Harrington is bumping that up to about 75 or more. He said the building's adjacent properties can be turned into lots if needed.

Accompanying those changes will be a new streetscape around the area. Harrington said it's not designed yet and will need some input from city government. He said $100,000 has been committed to it so far.

"It will change the look of the area and its activity and vibrancy," Harrington said. "It will have landscaping, nice public areas, park benches and a uniform design approach."

The building's interior renovations will take longer than the exterior, Harrington said, lasting 18 months to three years for total construction completion. It will be done as the spaces are leased, and the amount of spots might increase from the seven there now.

Among current tenants, Harrington said the Blind Pig bottling and brewing facility will definitely stay, the Dog Den is considering a larger location, and The Pointe fencing club and Simply Amish furniture store are mulling their options.

There has been interest from city council members in courting a grocery store, especially since the building was set to become a second Common Ground Food Co-op before those plans were scrapped in 2015. Harrington said there are not specific grocery store plans now, but he has received interest from specialty retail and food and beverage providers he can't name yet.

The city will use TIF funds over a period of 10 years to reimburse New Market Commons up to $600,000 for this project. Champaign-based Mode 3 Architecture will handle the construction.

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