CHAMPAIGN — Downtown's 109-year-old former PNC Bank building could see new life as a sushi bar by the end of the year.
KoFusion owner Janet Bubin is planning to move the cocktail lounge and sushi bar from the One Main complex near Neil and Main streets, where it's been since 2005, to 30 E. Main St., C.
"We're going to move KoFusion to PNC," she told News-Gazette Media on Thursday, adding that the hope is to move sometime by the "end of this year."
Bubin bought the PNC Bank building in December for $2.73 million in an auction after PNC announced it would be moving to the Midtown Plaza.
The bank branch moved last week to its new location at 302 S. First St., C.
Bubin said KoFusion, which opened a second location in 2013 in Urbana, will use about half of the bank building's first floor and lease the available space on the first and second floors.
The law firm Thomas, Mamer & Haughey will remain in the upper floors of the building, where it's been since 1946.
"Although the idea of moving had some excitement attached to it, we're perfectly happy not to have to go through the process," said Bruce Warren, the law firm's managing partner. "Pleased to remain Downtowners."
He said the firm signed a five-year lease with the option for two additional five-year extensions, "so we'll probably be here for a while."
Asked why she's planning to move her restaurant, Bubin said, "I don't want to pay the rent. I'd rather pay the mortgage than the rent."
One Main Development CEO Dave Jones said Thursday he hasn't been notified that KoFusion is moving.
"I still have a lease with her," he said. "We'll see."
But he said if it leaves, he expects to fill the space pretty quickly.
"We've had some pretty good inquiries on it," he said.
Bubin also bought the former News-Gazette press building at 48 E. Main St., C, in January 2017 for $1.77 million.
She said she's planning to put in a wood-fired grill on the back of that building, as well as a bakery.
It will be "completely different than KoFusion," Bubin said.