DANVILLE – It was three years ago that the city purchased the historic Harwal Hotel through the Vermilion County Trustee tax auction.
After city officials inspected the vacant building, at 101 W. Harrison St., it was discovered there were significant failures in the structure and it couldn’t be saved. Since then, it’s been on the city’s demolition list.
Tuesday night, the city council’s Public Works Committee recommended approving a $98,000 professional services agreement with Farnsworth Group and also a $47,967 agreement with Singh and Associates Inc. for Harrison Street parking lot and lighting improvements. Plans are to demolish the Harwal building and make additional parking for the downtown and Fischer Theatre. The city also owns the vacant lot between the Harwal and Lincoln Lanes.
City Engineer Sam Cole said there also would be improvements to the road itself, sidewalk and curb and gutter repairs on Harrison Street between Vermilion to west of Walnut Street.
The full city council will act on the agreements next week.
The city removed the Harwal’s historic sign in April 2015. The city also boarded up the four-story, 42-room building in December 2014. The sign was removed due to safety concerns over the deterioration of the brick building. The hotel at Harrison and Walnut — which is how it got its name, Harwal — opened in 1928.
The building was used as a hotel and cafe for years, and was bought in 2002 by Eric Williams, who ran it as a transitional living facility for parolees. In 2007, the city deemed it uninhabitable because of numerous health and safety violations, and it not having electricity. A couple of years later, barricades were set up due to the falling glass and pieces of plywood. Repairs weren’t made.
Ward 6 Alderman Aaron Troglia said the probably won't get many parking spots on the property due to the city’s landscaping ordinance.
Also Tuesday, the committee heard from Danville Mass Transit Director Lisa Beith that only some later Champaign bus routes were canceled due to the weather on Monday. She also said they will be rolling out bus route changes starting Jan. 1.
In other business, the committee recommended:
• Approving construction of temporary support of the sanitary sewer at the Lake Vermilion Dam. “It all got delayed,” City Engineer Sam Cole said of the city's Denmark Road, northwest pump station project.
When the city gets into that project, the sanitary sewer line will be removed. There will be an additional cost to remove it at a later date, Cole said.
He said this support is needed now due to the Aqua Illinois dam gate upgrades. Aqua and its contractor provided the city with an estimated construction cost of $62,918 to complete the support system construction. Funding comes from the city’s sanitary sewer fund reserves.
The Denmark road sanitary sewer project isn’t expected to start until the second half of 2020, with the roadway work not expected until spring 2021, according to Cole.
• Approving a $576,163 contract with Cross Construction Inc. for the Poland Road sanitary sewer pump station upgrade project. Sanitary sewer funds will be used for the work. Due to a box not being checked on the bidding paperwork, Schomburg & Schomburg’s lower bid of $559,857 didn’t acknowledge receipt of an addendum and resulted in the contractor’s bid being thrown out. The third bid was $699,000 from Stark Excavating. An alternate was not awarded with the contract. City officials said the project needs to be done; the city's highest volume pump station is in need of significant repair. Cole said if the bid amounts had a larger difference, such as $100,000, the city likely would have rebid it.
• Approving a $101,800 contract with Owens Excavating and Trucking for construction of the Hinkley Street, north of Fairchild and west of the Fairchild Overpass, and Highland Boulevard, near the H&L landfill, drainage improvements. Cole said the Hinkley Street improvements are part of the city’s storm water master plan to alleviate frequent flooding. The Highland Boulevard improvements are to address erosion and seepage from water runoff.
• Authorizing the vacation of an east-west alleyway near 917 N. Walnut St. for Linwood LLC. Business owner Nate Byram said his office for property management and real estate services is there. He owns both sides and previously has paved the parking lot there not knowing about the alley.
• Appropriating up to $150,000 in motor fuel tax funds to purchase rock salt due to quotes exceeding funds budgeted. City officials don’t expect delivery until around Dec. 1. Public Works Director Carl Carpenter said they have salt right now for about one more storm.
• Purchasing a low profile flat deck equipment trailer for $3,490 from Royer Trails Sales LLC with three dump trailer trade-ins the city never really used, according to Carpenter. Funding comes from the city’s sanitary sewer fund.
• Approving a $35,257 professional services agreement with Knight & Associates Surveying LLC for Edwards Street reconstruction, near the East Main Subway restaurant from Main to Cleveland, to address failing pavement and storm water ponding issues. Funds come from the Community Development Block Grant budget.