It's Your Business: Airbana market, beer garden getting new look


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Airbana, the open-air market proposed for downtown Urbana, got a little airier recently.

Matt Cho, the founder of [co][lab], plans to put the market and beer garden on the empty lot at 204 W. Main St., just east of [co][lab] and west of Corson Music.

When the building on that lot was torn down recently to make way for Airbana, plans called for preserving the building facade to keep the look of Main Street largely intact.

But fate intervened.

Cho said that as demolition to the rear of the building proceeded, a structural engineer found the brickwork had deteriorated.

"There was significant bowing, and we would have to rebuild brick by brick," Cho said.

That made the project cost-prohibitive, so the decision was made to take down the facade.

"We are rebuilding the facade, but at this point, the material is still undetermined," he added.

Cho said he wants to take advantage of the southern exposure and design a facade that will allow a lot of light to come into the space.

Cho said he hopes Airbana will be open by the end of July so it will be available for use during the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival in August.

The surface for the beer garden space will likely be gravel "so if you drop a beer, it won't shatter," he said.

Some "pop-up" stores that have used the [co][lab] storefront will likely move to the open-air market area once it's ready, he added.

Market/cafe on Broadway

Cho is also pushing ahead with plans for Broadway Market, a multiuse redevelopment of the former Four Season Garage Sale building at 401 N. Broadway Ave. in downtown Urbana.

Cho envisions a 15,000-square-foot indoor market there — including a cafe, bakery, dining hall, beer hall and seasonal retail space — and is seeking other investors for the project.

"We're hoping to have it online early next year and start construction by the end of summer," he said.

He estimates the space will seat up to 350 people.

A smaller section of the building, to the north, would be used as a coffee roastery, with retail and tasting space available.

The building, on the west side of Broadway Avenue, is just south and east of the new Boneyard Creek pathway.

Jump-start for students

Jumpstart, a new venture of Esteban Gast and Keilin Jahnke, will offer "startup" camps for middle and high school students this summer at [co][lab] in downtown Urbana.

Gast and Jahnke, who have been instructors for creativity classes in the Illinois Engineering First-Year Experience program, plan to expose the students to entrepreneurship and the creative process.

The middle school camps will be June 15-18 and June 22-25, while the high school camps are June 29 to July 2 and July 6-9. Each camp runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

"We walk them through the entire creativity process — having ideas and bringing them to be," Gast said.

Students will learn about brainstorming and business opportunities, identifying gaps in the market, evaluating ideas and pitching ideas to local entrepreneurs. They'll engage in public speaking and put together a business plan.

Sessions will take place in the [co][lab] collaborative working space at 206 W. Main St., U.

Gast has a master's degree in political science with an emphasis on educational policy from the University of Illinois, and Jahnke has a master's degree in systems and entrepreneurial engineering from the UI.

More information about the workshops is available at

Salt Kettle Market in May

Folks seeking a new venue for buying crafts, antiques and collectibles can circle May 8 and May 9 on the calendar.

That's when Margie Ashcraft and Kim Ratliff plan to launch the first Salt Kettle Market at the Vermilion County Fairgrounds west of Danville.

The market will be open from 3 to 8 p.m. that Friday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that Saturday.

"Right now we have 45 vendors," Ashcraft said, and organizers still have outside booths available for others interested in selling.

Both Ashcraft and Ratliff are vendors at Rabbittown Antiques and Artisans in Danville, but they wanted a special event "to reach a bigger audience."

"It'll be kind of a family shopping day," Ashcraft said. "It's Moms Weekend, and this is an opportunity for moms and daughters to get out."

Several food vendors will be on hand that weekend too, with hamburgers, barbecued ribs, hot dogs and cotton candy expected to be served.

For more information, contact Ashcraft at 497-0181.

Thoroughly modern

In case you hadn't noticed, the Aunt Millie's bakery outlet store at 805 Bloomington Road, C, opened on Wednesday.

As previously reported, Aunt Millie's is filling space at Pioneer Plaza that was formerly occupied by the Wonder/Hostess bakery outlet. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The store is closed Sundays.

'Wish is my command'

Craig Walters of rural Williamsport, Ind., has opened a Window Genie franchise serving Champaign and Vermilion counties.

The home service company specializes in window cleaning, but also provides window tinting and pressure washing.

Other services include dryer-vent cleaning, chandelier cleaning, concrete cleaning and resealing and the cleaning and resecuring of gutters.

Walters has 30 years of industrial sales experience. His wife, Christy, handles accounting.

He can be reached directly at 765-637-8777, or through the Champaign Window Genie office at 701 Devonshire Drive, 217-239-6645.

Window Genie was founded in 1994 and has 72 franchise owners operating 140 units in 28 states. The business serves primarily residential customers as well as small offices and commercial clients.

Synergy in Champaign

Synergy HomeCare, which already has an office in Bloomington, is opening a Champaign office at 2213 S. Neil St. in the Shoppes of Knollwood.

The nonmedical home care services firm is planning a grand opening celebration from 4 to 7 p.m. April 30 at the new location.

Synergy HomeCare services include personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders, escort service for shopping and errands, and respite care.

The phone number in Champaign is 318-0268. The website is

Chill out on Tax Day

Kona Ice is observing Wednesday, April 15, as National Chill Out Day and will hand out free cups of tropical shaved ice and plastic leis to area residents.

Wes Hanner, who operates the local franchise with his father, Chuck, said that if weather cooperates, the Kona Ice vehicle will likely start its rounds near The News-Gazette in downtown Champaign during the early afternoon, then move around to accounting, insurance and tax-related business sites the remainder of the day.

Contact Don Dodson at 217-351-5227; by email at; or by mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.