DANVILLE — Possible hopeful news about Bresee Tower has some people holding out hope the historic building still can be saved.
Owners Chris and Jeri Collins took to social media on Tuesday. They said, “We are happy to announce that after two and a half years of hard work, we have signed an agreement for an exciting partnership with Wellspring Development Group. You are aware that this process is a long one and you’ve been right there with us, experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions with hope, excitement and discouragement. My hopes are that, with this news, you’ll be as excited as we are to work together to accomplish the list of necessary steps for the refurbishment of this amazing property to help rebuild and revitalize the downtown area. ‘Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’ ~ Edward Everett Hale. Partners in success! Chris and Jeri Collins”
In an email, Jeri Collins stated “We are excited to announce a new agreement and partnership with Wellspring Development Group. It has been a very long and tedious process. As you know, we have had potentials over the past two and a half years, but nothing has panned out and we were not previously able to get things to the point of being official. The mayor is aware of our news and we have had communications between our newly formed group and the mayor. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I will be releasing more information regarding planning and process as soon as I am able. We wanted to get this awesome news out to the people of Vermilion County and the city of Danville so that they know what is happening.”
“Chris and I are very excited to be able to have this important step in the process finally official and are looking forward to bringing fun and hope to the people regarding the revitalization of this historic building. I will relay new updates to you as they become available,” Jeri stated.
Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said on Tuesday that he’s had one conversation with the “alleged new partner,” who hadn’t seen the building in person yet.
Williams said his greatest hope is see the building saved and reused. It’s such an iconic and historical structure, he said.
But he also said the city will “not let up pressure to get stuff done. We will likely continue with our lawsuit.”
Williams said it they do jump in, “great.” If they don’t, the city is moving ahead with the lawsuit.
Williams has said the Collins’ haven’t kept their promises since they’ve owned the building since summer of 2018.
The city has basically had to start from scratch with the new tower owners, from the previous lawsuit.
According to its website, Wellspring Development Group has “specialists in the development of unique and exclusive properties. Our work inspires. We pride ourselves on delivering outstanding quality and design for leading clients across the nation. Wellspring Development Group has designed and built numerous homes and developments throughout the nation including, but not limited to Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, California and Colorado.”
In January, Williams told aldermen that unfortunately, the removal of the antenna on top of Bresee Tower was probably one of the last nails in the coffin for the city’s historic downtown skyscraper.
He at that time said likely this spring, the city will resume court proceedings and obtain demolition bids so the city can work with the county to get the building demolished, hopefully sometime this year.
Williams said the coronavirus pandemic delayed getting bids last year, partly due to the city being cautious with finances.
Williams said Bresee Tower needs to be demolished for the public’s safety.
“It’s a ticking time bomb,” Williams said in January.
He said Chris and Jeri Collins promised a safety netting and other things which they’ve not done.
Last year, the city received a $2.5 million estimate to tear down Bresee Tower and the adjacent former Vermilion County Courthouse annex. With asbestos abatement and fill, the cost could be closer to $3.5 million, according to Williams.
A Main Street lane closure has occurred since June 30, 2019, when debris fell from the 1918 12-story historic tower at 4 N. Vermilion St. onto Main Street.