Owner of KoFusion restaurants buys PNC Bank building for $2.73M


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CHAMPAIGN — The owner of the KoFusion restaurants has bought the PNC Bank building in downtown Champaign.

A holding company that Janet Bubin manages completed the sale last week for $2.73 million, according to county property transaction records.

Bubin declined to share her plans for the building, which PNC plans to leave in January once it moves to the new Midtown Plaza development at 302 S. First St., C.

Bubin owns two KoFusion sushi restaurant locations: The first in downtown Champaign opened in 2005, and the second opened in 2013 just south of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana.

She also remodeled the 1920s-era White Line Laundry building at 723 S. Neil St. in 2010, and bought the former News-Gazette building at 48 E. Main St., C, in January 2017 for $1.77 million.

There, Bubin is planning a project that's a mix of retail, restaurant and apartments, though there have been no signs of work on that.

The future has been uncertain for the 109-year-old bank building since PNC posted a legal notice in The News-Gazette in June that signaled its intention to relocate.

The bank was seeking permission for the move from federal regulators, which was granted in August.

The building was then put up for auction, but the buyers weren't initially announced.

The transaction closed Dec. 4, according to county records, and Zach Wetherell, a broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty, represented the buyer, according to a tweet from Coldwell Banker.

PNC told customers earlier this year that the downtown branch's last day will be Jan. 18, and the new one will open Jan. 22.

In the letter to customers, PNC market manager Andrew Baker said it chose to move the branch after it studied "the effectiveness of our branches based on their physical capacity as well as the number of customers who frequent each location," suggesting that traffic to the downtown building had declined.

PNC was the first tenant to be announced at the new Midtown Plaza, a project by the Boneyard Creek retention ponds by developer Dan Hamelberg.

PNC will be joined by the new brick-and-mortar location for the taco truck Fernando's and potentially another restaurant.

"We've got more lookers, but it's a little premature to share that," Hamelberg said. "We've got a large restaurant organization who is looking to put a cafeteria-style thing in here, with also a cooking center."

He said there's also been interest from a barber and beauty shop, and a gym.

"We've got people circling, and we're waiting for somebody to land," he said, expecting more deals will be made after New Year's.

The upper floors of the development are apartments that opened this fall and are fully leased, Hamelberg said.