The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 24, 2013

Aldermen debate downtown property purchase

BY JENNIFER BAILEY
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Aldermen approved a redevelopment agreement Tuesday night and the purchase of property at 401 N. Vermilion St. for a law office.

The property is owned by Harold L. Smith and would be purchased by the city for $55,000.

Some aldermen, however, aren’t convinced that selling the property for $35,000 and paying more than $40,000 more in sidewalk, curb, demolition and in other tax reimbursements has enough benefits for the city.

City council members will act on the items at their Aug. 6 meeting.

The council’s Public Services Committee voted 4-2, with Ward 4 Alderwoman Sharon McMahon and Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Davis voting against the agreement and property purchase.

Ward 6 Alderman Steve Nichols said he might change his vote at the full city council meeting. Ward 3 Alderwoman April Gilbert was absent.

The former gas station at the northeast corner of Vermilion and Seminary streets, across from the Danville Public Library, would become a law office for Badu N. Patel under the agreements.

Aldermen recommended approving a redevelopment agreement for that property in the Midtown Tax Increment Financing District.

Once demolition activities are completed, the city will sell the project site to the developer, Patel, for $35,000, according to the agreement.

Chris Milliken, planning and urban services manager with the city, said the property has been vacant for a while and Patel, who has office space in Danville and Urbana, was looking for a permanent location here. Milliken said there were concerns about costs with this property and environmental issues with the gas tanks.

The city has already completed environmental assessments with its Brownfields grant on the site and would receive a “No Further Remediation” letter from the Environmental Protection Agency, he said. No other clean-up costs are expected, Milliken said, but an issue could be the ground water. The underground gas tanks would not be disturbed with the project, he said.

Operations are expected to begin within one year of the acquisition of the site from the city, by fall of 2014. Developer construction costs are expected to be at least $230,000. Construction jobs are estimated at 12, with office jobs estimated at five.

Milliken said benefits to the city include an improved property and increased taxes.

“I think its going to really enhance the downtown,” Ward 7 Alderman Steve Foster said about the improvements at that corner.

Ward 7 Alderman Bill Black said evidently there isn’t a willing buyer for the property unless the city becomes the middle man.

In other business, the committee:

Heard the city has 28 firefighter applications, 19 police applications and four lateral transfer applications for police for experienced police officers in other communities to fill vacancies.

The city is accepting applications for probationary police officer and probationary firefighter positions through July 31.

Heard again from potential health insurance brokers.

Ward 5 Alderman Tom Stone said health insurance costs for the city are “just a runaway train right now.”

Stone said the employees are the city’s biggest asset, but the city must get a handle on costs and reduce them.

City officials are expected to send a recommendation to aldermen by Monday for them to review prior to the next city council meeting on Aug. 6.

Recommended purchasing right-of-way in the 3600 block of North Vermilion Street for $10 from Deborah Klein Investments for widening North Vermilion Street for a dedicated right turn land at the existing Tractor Supply entrance as part of the Meijer project.

Recommended amending a resolution pertaining to the redevelopment agreement with McDonald’s.

McDonald’s has a projected opening date of Aug. 6 at Bowman and Main streets, according to Mayor Scott Eisenhauer.