CHAMPAIGN – The city council on Tuesday night green-lighted one of the first steps toward continuing development of the University of Illinois Research Park to the east.
A $4.9 million, state-funded project will allow officials to extend a network of roads to the east of First Street, including South Fourth Street from St. Mary's Road to Windsor Road. City council members unanimously signed off on the project.
Construction was to be funded with just over $6 million with money from the state's capital program, Illinois Jobs Now!. Project bids came in about 35 percent under an engineer's estimate, which leaves more than $1 million to fund other Research Park capital projects.
City officials say the University of Illinois is drafting a list of projects for which that extra state money might be used.
In other business, the city council formally approved a seven-year, $3 million tax rebate program for a proposed downtown hotel. The hotel, scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2013, will be located at the corner of Church and Neil streets, where a 2008 fire destroyed the historic Metropolitan Building.
City officials believe developing that corner will strengthen the downtown area's business climate. The agreement give administrators the authority to rebate up to $3 million in tax revenue the hotel business generates in its first seven years.
“There is so much value in us getting rid of that hole,” said council member Tom Bruno. “That is worth so much to us, that that alone is worth the investment to the city.”