URBANA — A historic, vacant building in the heart of downtown Urbana might get new life if tax credits are approved by the state.
The building that once housed Little Nashville, a bar just south of the roundabout, has been empty for two years and investor John Doss with Dye and Doss Insurance wants to change that.
“I didn’t really see any prospects of anybody doing anything with it,” Doss said as to why he decided to take up the project. “And besides that, in the ’40s and ’50s, my grandfather owned it. So it’s kind of a sentimental place.”
His insurance office is just south of the old bar. An application for historic tax credits filed with the Ohio Development Service Agency shows the total cost to renovate the 4,475-squarefoot building will be about $222,000. The building will house one office inside and have two residential spaces on the second floor.
Doss has requested $31,000 in tax credits, which are sold to investors to provide money for the development. He said he hopes to have the project completed by next summer.
“The historic tax program is a pretty good deal and it is really nice for small buildings,” he said. “The tax credits makes this project a viable thing.”
Putting buildings to use in downtown Urbana helps everyone in the community, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign County Economic Partnership.
“We have a beautiful downtown with our historic overlay,” she said. “The more we can preserve and restore those buildings, the better our downtown will be.”
She took a tour of the building with Doss after he bought it about a year ago and said it has a lot of opportunity.
“Any new business is more than welcomed,” she said. “The foot traffic will benefit every business in downtown Urbana.”
READ MORE from staff writer Parker Perry at the Springfield News-Sun.
by Joshua Keeran, Urbana Daily Citizen
Navistar, one of the area’s largest employers, revealed plans for its new Urbana distribution center during a groundbreaking ceremony held Thursday at the Urbana Industrial Park on the city’s south side.
At an estimated price tag of $12 million, the 355,000-square-foot facility at 1155 Phoenix Drive is under construction and expected to be completed by Dec. 1. Once up and running, the facility is expected to house inventory for Navistar that could total up to $16 million.
“It’s a very exciting time for Navistar here in the great state of Ohio,” said Edward Franklin, senior manager of supply chain operations at Navistar.
Earlier this year, Franklin said, the company started production on a second assembly line at its Springfield assembly plant as part of an agreement with General Motors in which Navistar is manufacturing cutaway models of GM’s G Van.
“This facility will help us sustain our new relationship with GM as well as give us the opportunity to sustain our product portfolio growth in the future,” he said. “I’m very excited to get all our material and be able to consolidate it into one place here in Urbana.”
Located on property owned by Damewood Enterprises Limited, the new distribution center is being built by Dublin Building Systems. Once complete, the facility will be leased by Damewood Enterprises to Navistar.
Rich Irelan, vice president of sales and marketing for Dublin Building Systems, said his company is “committed to hitting” the target completion date of Dec. 1, and he said meeting such a deadline is obtainable thanks to the city’s willingness to see the project through.
“It’s so refreshing to work in the city of Urbana,” Irelan said. “We are going to promote more business in Urbana, Ohio, for sure.”
Speaking on behalf of Damewood Enterprises, Brad Damewood said, “We are very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this project,” and he added it wouldn’t have been a possibility without the help of Marcia Bailey (Champaign Economic Partnership executive director) and the support of a tax abatement agreement by Urbana City Council and Urbana City Schools Board of Education.
“I’m sure Navistar had plenty of options for build-to-suit locations as well as exciting buildings,” he said. “One of the things that allowed Urbana to be the site chosen was the tax abatement.”
The agreed upon Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) agreement grants Damewood Enterprises a 10-year, 100 percent tax exemption of real property tax.
Impact on local community
While Bailey acknowledged the new distribution center will result in at least a $28 million investment into the area ($12 million into the building and $16 million in inventory), she said the biggest winner in the deal is the local community from a jobs standpoint.
“We were able to save 114 jobs here in our community that could have went to another community,” she said. “We are looking at another 40 coming in either from another facility or new employment all together.”
In the CRA agreement, Navistar stated its plans with the new facility are to retain the 114 employees currently employed at its ODW Logistics facility (located at 1030 S. Edgewood Ave.), transfer 27 full-time jobs from Xenia to Urbana, and create 13 new full-time jobs.
Bailey said the distribution center will have a payroll of nearly $7 million.
Urbana Mayor Bill Bean added the city has been able to build great relationships over the years that has led to the numerous construction projects underway from two new school buildings to new commercial properties like the Navistar distribution center and a new medical center for Marysville-based Memorial Health.
“We have a lot of things going on. A lot of growth, and this (Navistar facility) is part of it,” he said. “Without good partners, we couldn’t do this.”
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.
by Casey S. Elliott, Urbana Daily Citizen
Urbana resident Michelle Smith always wanted her own shop.
“It was always my dream to open my own shop,” she said. “The opportunity never came up while raising four kids. But now they are grown. When the opportunity came up to buy it. I jumped on it.”
Smith is the new owner of Kaleidoscope, 117 N. Main St. She was a vendor at the shop for more than a year and a vendor in primitives over 10 years.
Smith graduated from Kenton Ridge High School in Springfield and moved to Urbana 24 years ago.
“I knew I wanted to be in business,” she said, noting when her children were younger they had a business pouring candles. That business, 3H’s, named after her daughters Heather (Mike White), Heidi (Justin Geer) and Hannah Smith, helped pay for their sports costs.
Now that they are older and on their own, she has the time to devote to her own business. She plans to keep the Kaleidoscope tradition alive, with vendors who are always looking for unique antique and vintage items.
Read More at http://urbanacitizen.com/news/55693/urbanas-kaleidoscope-gets-new-owner
by Joshua Keeran, Urbana Daily Citizen
With the south side of Urbana currently serving as a hotbed of sorts for economic development, Colorado-based Crop Production Services (CPS) has decided to add to the ongoing construction in the area by redeveloping the former Interstate Truckers Inc. facility at 668 state Route 55 into a fertilizer distribution center.
“We’d like to be open and have some type of functionality this fall,” said Steve Emery, the southern Ohio division manager for CPS. “Fall is fertilizer season as harvest takes place, so we’d like to proceed as far as excavation and things of that nature.”
To get the ball rolling on the project, the Urbana Planning Commission on Monday approved a preliminary site plan contingent upon all comments made by the city’s Technical Review Committee, zoning officer and community development manager being addressed and incorporated into the final site plan drawings.
“While we don’t have everything fine tuned, we are certainly willing and want to cooperate with your board and city regulations as best we can,” said Jim Sawyer, an engineer with J&S Engineering, the firm hired by CPS to work on the project.
By being granted preliminary site plan approval, CPS is allowed to begin excavation or site work – includes foundation and utility work – on the 10-acre property located just west of Honeywell Aerospace.
“I think it will be a great shot in the arm for Champaign County and, in particular, the city of Urbana,” Sawyer said.
CPS’ plans for the site include adding onto the existing building, which will be the main office space, building a 20,000-plus-square-foot liquid fertilizer storage facility, and constructing a 12,000-plus-square-foot dry fertilizer storage building.
Considering the facility will be housing fertilizer, Emery and Sawyer assured the Planning Commission that all necessary precautions will be addressed to make sure the property complies will all laws and regulations.
“Being the largest wholesaler of agricultural fertilizer in the world, (CPS) pretty much sets a pretty high bar for safety,” Sawyer said.
Marcia Bailey, executive director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, called the upcoming project “another boost in the economic outlook for our community.”
“The opportunity to bring a vacant building back to use is always a good thing,” she said.
Bailey added the company anticipates the facility being fully operational by spring 2018. By this time, CPS anticipates the Urbana location will employ eight to 10 full-time employees and four to six part-time seasonal employees.
Bailey added CPS’ investment in the property along with bringing new employment to the area is important to not only the city, but also the county as it will add to the current tax base.
With several construction projects already underway in the general vicinity of the planned CPS fertilizer distribution center, what’s next for the city’s south side is anyone’s guess.
“The corridor (southern entrance) is being enhanced with the new Urbana City Schools (building), and the continual expansion and investment along state Route 55 (Lewis B. Moore Drive) creates the opportunity for further progress with additional business opportunities,” Bailey said.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.
by Katherine Collins - Springfield News-Sun
Students in Champaign County will have the chance to go to Clark State for free now that the community college has expanded a scholars program to the area.
Until now the Champion City Scholars program was only available to students within the Springfield City School District. Now 10 eighth graders from Graham Local Schools and 10 eighth graders from Urbana City Schools will be chosen to participate in the new Champaign County Scholars program at the beginning of next school year.
“The whole purpose is to ensure three free years of college for these students,” Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said.
The students need to be the first member of their family to attend college, she said, and qualify for free or reduced lunch to be considered.
Click to read more on SpringfieldNewsSun.com
By Matt Sanctis - Springfield News-Sun
Urbana University’s new executive vice president said Wednesday he plans to develop closer ties between the university and local businesses.
Christopher Washington was named executive vice president of Urbana University last month after former President George Lucas resigned. Washington said Wednesday the university will play a more active role in the region and will develop deeper ties with area businesses, particularly in fields like manufacturing.
“We have to offer programs of study that are relevant to the surrounding community,” Washington said.
Washington is taking over at a time when Urbana University will shift to a branch campus of Franklin University. Franklin acquired the Champaign County campus in 2014 after Urbana University faced years of lean enrollment and financial struggles. As part of the deal, Urbana now functions as a division of Franklin but retains its name. Franklin is a private, nonprofit institution based in Columbus.
Read more at SpringfieldNewsSun.com