Champaign council to vote on funds to help redevelop downtown building

Champaign council to vote on funds to help redevelop downtown building

CHAMPAIGN — After sitting vacant for 12 years, a downtown building is on track to begin a new phase of its life.

Main Street Rail LLC is planning to redevelop the building at 40 E. University Ave. into a microbrewery with upper-floor residential space. On Tuesday, the city council will vote on giving the project $100,000 in Redevelopment Incentive Program funding.

The two-story structure was built in 1919 and last occupied by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore before it moved down the street to 119 E. University in 2006. Tina Ansong, an associate planner with the city, said she can't yet disclose which company would operate the microbrewery.

"It wouldn't be a manufacturing or bottling plant," Ansong said. "It'd be more like a small-scale craft brewery with drinks on sale for consumption."

The building, which sits behind Jon's Pipe Shop and across the street from Seven Saints in downtown Champaign, is in a tax-increment-financing district, meaning it can use the funds the council is considering approving to make permanent enhancements.

The TIF district that it's in has no funds, according to a city report, so the $100,000 would be reimbursed over 10 years with additional taxes generated from the project.

Main Street Rail is planning to put a total of about $1.2 million into redeveloping the building with new storefronts, windows and flooring and upgraded services. It's aiming to have the work done in August.

The project met seven of the city's nine criteria to qualify for the incentive funding, according to the report.

"It's definitely a demand in our (city) comprehensive plan," Ansong said about increased residential space downtown, "so residents can have access to all downtown amenities within walking distance."

The two criteria the project doesn't meet are that it's not a reconstruction or expansion on vacant or underutilized land, and the property isn't listed on the city's Local Landmark Registry or the National Register of Historic Places.