URBANA — Champaign County officials are looking to the County Plaza office building in downtown Urbana to solve space issues for the sheriff’s office and, likely, some other county offices that have no room to expand.
County Executive Darlene Kloeppel said she was authorized in a closed session of the county board meeting to negotiate the purchase of the building at 102 E. Main St., next door to the current sheriff’s office and across the street from the county courthouse.
She’s made a tentative deal, she said, and under a resolution going to the board for approval next week, the county would buy the County Plaza building for $2 million.
Approval of the resolution at Thursday’s board meeting would grant authority to execute the real-estate documents to buy the property.
The County Plaza building is about 88,000 square feet and has five stories plus a basement, Kloeppel said. Efforts to buy it were primarily prompted by the need for a new space for the sheriff’s office, currently at 204 E. Main St., she said.
That building, which also houses one of the county’s jails, is deteriorating. The county board has already approved a $20.4 million plan to relocate the jail to the satellite facility at 502 S. Lierman Ave. and build an addition there.
There are other county offices, among them the public defender, which also need room to expand, and the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission has also indicated it needs more room, Kloeppel said.
“We know we need the room and the sheriff needs to move,” she said.
The sheriff’s office wouldn’t use all the space in the County Plaza building, but how the rest of the space would be configured and which county offices may be moving there remains to be determined, she said.
A closing date on the purchase also remains to be set, Kloeppel said.
Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said Friday he’s excited about the prospect of moving to the County Plaza building.
“I actually started looking at space a little over a year ago over there,” he said.
Initially, the thought was the county could lease the space after the downtown jail closes, but the idea evolved into a purchase, Heuerman said.
“I think it would adequately suit our needs,” he said.
Heuerman said the sheriff’s office would likely use two floors of the building, which would leave quite a bit of space left for other county offices.
“I’m pleased that we found a workable solution for moving the sheriff’s office and, potentially, other offices that have space issues,” Kloeppel said.
Kloeppel also said she sees economic development benefits for the city’s downtown in the sale and repurposing of the County Plaza building.