Demolition underway on old driver's facility; new space to open this summer

 

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CHAMPAIGN — You'll be able to renew your driver's license without leaving Champaign-Urbana sometime this summer.

But exactly when that will be remains uncertain.

As the former driver's license facility on Bradley Avenue in northwest Champaign is being demolished, the new one at Round Barn Centre in Champaign is under construction.

Secretary of State spokesman Henry Haupt said construction is proceeding at the new space, including walls, plumbing and wiring.

The secretary of state's office has been told it "can expect to gain access in July," and then will install more wiring, countertops and computers, he said.

"We are committed to open as soon as possible this summer," he said, but couldn't name a specific date because of the ongoing construction work.

"We are on top of this," he said.

The facility, in the Round Barn Centre, contains 6,000 square feet of space, and is about 45 percent larger than the previous 4,150-square foot Champaign office, which closed abruptly in early November.

In March, Haupt said the secretary of state does "not expect increasing staffing level at the new facility."

The old drivers license services building — at 2401 W. Bradley Ave., Champaign, about two miles north of the new site — was closed after employees had complained of air quality problems, and the number of customers inside the building was restricted in order to keep carbon-dioxide levels down.

Although air-quality tests of the building when it was empty showed no problems, monitoring by the Illinois Department of Labor and by Hillside-based Professional Service Industries Inc. showed unusually high carbon-dioxide levels when the building was crowded with customers.

The secretary of state's office finally announced that the facility would close on Nov. 8.

The state paid $103,100 a year to CMH Properties LLC (owned by Christopher Hartman) to lease the Bradley Avenue building.

The new contract, with Round Barn West LLC, is for $14 per square foot. With all costs included, it will amount to about $100,000 annually, Haupt said.

"We have a 10-year lease with no increases," he said in March.