Danville to spend $320K to spur development at key intersection

Danville to spend $320K to spur development at key intersection

DANVILLE — In the next 60 days, the city of Danville will shell out more than $320,000 for three properties at one of the city's busiest intersections in hope of spurring development there.

Most likely, a liquor store will not be in the mix.

The possible relocation of an existing liquor store to the area near the intersection of Fairchild and Vermilion streets in the heart of the city — and near Danville High School — is what led the city to step in to make these purchases.

"That is a fantastic corner for future development, and we are currently working with an interested developer in creating a pre-development agreement," said Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who would not disclose the identity of the developer or what kind of project is being considered at the northwest corner of Fairchild and Vermilion.

By traffic counts, it's one of the five busiest intersections in Danville, according to Chris Milliken, the city's planning and urban services manager.

It's also where a former Speed Lube has sat vacant for several years on a small lot. Adjacent to it is an even smaller grassy lot. And next to it is the former Gulick's Illiana Medical Supply, which closed last summer and is now vacant.

"The city has been very interested in connecting those three properties," Eisenhauer said. "We recognize that any one of the properties on its own would be difficult for development, particularly the types of development we are interested in seeing on that corner."

"But now, we're able to talk about a much larger development that we think could greatly benefit the community as a whole and particularly that area," Eisenhauer said.

One year ago, longtime Danville businessman Steve Gulick was poised to sell his property only. The owners of Stroud's Liquor in south Danville were interested in moving their business to Gulick's space at 912-914 N. Vermilion.

But controversy erupted when the issue went before the city's zoning and planning commission. A decades-old ordinance forced Gulick to seek, prior to sale, a zoning change that would ensure the parking lot and building were zoned the same.

Neighbors were informed of the proposed zoning change, with the notices stating that the intended new business would be a liquor store.

Many of those neighbors, people connected with Danville High School and business owners objected to a liquor store opening there. Another liquor store is already within two blocks of the high school, and the CVS across Fairchild Street sells alcohol, as well.

Jerry Hambley, who owns Royal Donut across Vermilion Street, said this week that he still has mixed feelings about the issue — he remains pro-business, acknowledges the location is "a main corridor to the north shopping area," and believes the less government involvement the better. But he also thinks a liquor store at that location would be a bad fit, especially with the school nearby.

Mark and Alyssa Horner live in an older home they are renovating in the same block as the three properties, and spoke out against a liquor store at last year's zoning meeting. They expressed relief that development appears to be going in a new direction.

"We're hoping there will be (development) more promotional to downtown Danville," Mark Horner said.

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