The building has been vacant for over 10 years.
“We’re going to see new work, new life, new employees in this building,” said Champaign Economic Partnership Director Marcia Bailey.
Securing the building and cleaning up the site took the team effort of private and public partnerships like the City of Urbana, the Champaign Economic Partnership and True Inspection Services, LLC, a full-service commercial inspection, engineering and construction management company.
TIS is now the owner of 12.6 of the 20 acre site, including the building. TIS Executive Vice President Joe Timm said three tenants will move into the building after its restoration – TIS, Community Health and Wellness Partners out of Logan County and The Door Shop, which is a commercial door company.
Project partners hope that after the work is completed, other investors will be drawn to build on space behind the building and part of the site’s acreage on the other side of the bike path.
The JMC project piggybacks off of the ongoing development of the FC Legacy Place senior living project that will transform the former North and South elementary schools and the Douglas Inn into affordable senior housing.
“We’re kind of looking at this as the anchor client or anchor site for helping redevelop this whole neighborhood,” Timm said.
Construction bids for the project will go out soon, and the businesses are expected to move in by fall 2021.
Three Businesses to Move in Next Fall
Once work is completed, TIS – a minority-owned, full-service commercial inspection, engineering and construction management company – will occupy the building’s second floor, moving from its current South Main Street location.
Community Health & Wellness Partners (CHWP), which offers a full range of primary medical care including behavioral health services in Bellefontaine, Indian Lake and West Liberty, will open a newly approved Urbana location on the first floor of 605 Miami St. by late fall 2021. The Health Resource Service Administration has also granted CHWP approval to open a school-based health center in West Liberty-Salem Schools in early 2021, CHWP President/CEO Tara Bair said.
The third business – The Door Shop, a commercial door and hardware distributor – will have light manufacturing and warehouse operations at the site.
The former Q3 JMC building is the fourth major vacant structure in Urbana to be given a new lease on life this fall. It joins the Douglas Hotel and the former Urbana North and South Elementary Schools, which are being restored and renovated for FC Legacy Place, a total of 51 affordable senior apartments.
“Both projects have moved forward thanks to strong public-private partnerships, of government and business working together to obtain the necessary funding and provide the expertise to bring plans to reality,” said Marcia Bailey, director of the Champaign Economic Partnership (CEP), Champaign County’s economic development agency.
Bailey credits the Champaign County Board of Revision for helping set the wheels in motion for the Q3 JMC project when it approved in 2015 the City of Urbana’s request to obtain the property free of unpaid back property taxes and other encumbrances after no one bid on the property at a sheriff’s sale.
The city took ownership of the 20-acre site in 2017, said Doug Crabill, community development manager who has managed the project for the city. After that the city pursued redevelopment of the property, to clear it of contamination and prepare it for development by new owners.
Bailey assisted the city in reaching an agreement with TIS, the city’s development partner, to oversee the site cleanup and redevelopment. “They were the only company that came forward with interest in renovating the building and turning the brownfield into a greenfield for business development,” Bailey said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to find an end user for the property because of the contamination that had to be removed.”
On behalf of TIS, Bailey wrote an application for a JobsOhio Site Redevelopment Pilot Program grant to help fund the work.
JobsOhio, encouraged by the number of community partners involved, awarded TIS a reimbursable grant of $883,947 to help cover the cost of demolition, environmental remediation, asbestos abatement, removal and disposal of waste, and site preparation. The city provided $348,435 in matching funds, and TIS contributed $116,145.
TIS has acquired 12.6 acres on the east side of the 20-acre redevelopment site, including the Q3 JMC building. The remaining portion of the 20-acre site is being readied to be marketed for business development, Crabill said.
Timm said TIS’s new location will “help take us to the next step in the growth of our company, to hire more personnel and expand our operations.” In addition, he said, some of the 12.6-acre parcel that the former Q3 JMC building sits on will be developed for sale to other businesses.
“The building will be an anchor for future development on the rest of the property, restore jobs lost when Q3 JMC closed, and generate tax revenue for our community,” Bailey said.
Kerry Brugger, Urbana’s director of administration, said, “We’re excited to see the building come back into productive use. It’s a great project for our community. It eliminates a severe safety and health nuisance for the community and will retain and create jobs.”
Of TIS, he said, “It’s been a pleasure working with them. They’ve been an excellent partner to work with.”
By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Developers are hopeful that the former Q3 JMC Inc. property at 605 Miami St. will be ready to use later this year, with nearly three-quarters of the Johnson Manufacturing building already leased to various companies, according to True Inspection Services Vice President Joe Timm. Urbana-based TIS is just one company looking forward to taking up residence in the 32,000-square-foot building while continuing to direct the remediation of the 20-acre site.
“Right now we have a contractor that’s doing most of the work and finishing up the remediation,” Timm said in February. “That should be done probably in the next 90 days, and then at that point we’ll apply for the covenant not to sue with the (Environmental Protection Agency), which will probably take another 60-90 days. Once we get that, then at that point we can start some of the redevelopment of the actual building itself.”
TIS currently maintains offices at 871 S. Main St., the old Buckles Building, but plans to move to the Johnson Building later this summer. A door manufacturer from Kentucky also plans to establish warehouse space there, which Timm says will create a handful of local jobs.
“We’ve had at least three people go in that building,” said Champaign Economic Partnership Director Marcia Bailey. “Right now you look at it and it looks ugly because it’s got the metal skin on it, but you get in that building and it’s gorgeous. It’s got the big brick in it and the beams, and it’s a gorgeous building.”
Five acres at the rear of the property have never been built on. At the west side, the CEP is looking at a potential opportunity to clean up Ann Street and Beech Street, depending on the end user and if the city wants to maintain them. The entire property is zoned manufacturing, and Bailey said her plan is to market it as such and eventually get every inch possible utilized as manufacturing space.
The east side of the property will belong to TIS, which the company will continue to redevelop and for which lessees will be sought.
“All in total it’s about 20 acres of manufacturing that’s sitting there in the heart of Urbana on a US highway, so it’s prime location,” Bailey said.
“Then we were trying to find someone who would honestly take the risk and the task on to help us get it cleaned up, and that’s when Joe contacted us to see what’s going on and how he might be able to help.”
The Q3 JMC property has not been fully utilized since the company ceased manufacturing operations there in 2008. The city of Urbana officially took ownership of the property in May 2017 through a tax foreclosure process and shortly thereafter obtained a $883,947 grant through a JobsOhio Redevelopment Pilot Program to perform demolition, environmental remediation, asbestos abatement, removal and disposal of waste and site preparation. “Historically it was a manufacturing operation, Q3 Stamp Metal, which had purchased the Johnson Manufacturing Company, so they called it Q3 JMC,” said Community Development Manager Doug Crabill.
“It basically became an abandoned property, the taxes accumulated, and suffered quite a bit of vandalism. Then we had a fire caused by arson that destroyed part of the remaining buildings on Miami. Part of the site was under findings and orders with the Ohio EPA, so we got those findings and orders released, but part of getting those released is to complete the cleanup work that’s being done.”
Honeywell International Inc. recently completed remediation of groundwater contamination in a four-acre section on the west side of the property. Honeywell became liable for the former Grimes Aerospace Plastic Research Products contamination when it acquired the Grimes company.
“Honeywell’s scope was limited to VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) remediation,” said Crabill. “That was what they agreed to participate and assist with as far as that part of the cleanup and that was isolated to a small area in the back of the site. They essentially removed quite a bit of soil and had it hauled away and put back-fill in, and then they’ve installed monitoring wells. What they are trying to demonstrate is that they’ve cleaned up the source of the VOC contamination, so therefore then the groundwater is clean in that area again.”
TIS also removed an 800-gallon diesel storage tank and, according to Crabill, the city received a letter from the Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations that no further action is needed in that area of the property.
TIS recently completed asbestos remediation work in the Johnson building.
According to Crabill, the presence of asbestos was a major reason that several of the structures were not kept, along with damage from a 2015 fire ruled an act of arson by the state Fire Marshal’s Office.
“The structures that were not kept were in a state that they just couldn’t be put back,” he said. “A good period had passed since the time they closed until the time we were able to take ownership of the site, and I think all of the roofs were at the end of their useful life even back when they were in business, so by the time we got in a lot of the water damage had already set in on a lot of the structures.”
Bailey stated her appreciation for TIS doing their due diligence to oversee the project, adding that they would not hand the property over to a buyer until they were certain there were no longer any hazards involved.
“It is a true partnership because all of the entities had responsibilities,” she said. “The city does, Honeywell had their responsibility, and at the end of the day, then, the responsibility is on True Inspection to be able to get it cleaned up and ready for the city to apply for the VAP agreement - Voluntary Action Plan - and then we start marketing.
We’re already marketing, Joe and I have already had more than one person down there looking at that space.”
“The Ohio EPA has a Voluntary Action Program - VAP - and essentially it’s a program where a volunteer steps up and is willing to bring a property up to a certain environmental standard that Ohio EPA has developed,” said Crabill. “They have a certified professional that oversees that, the city has one of those who oversees this, and he prepares all the documentation of all the remediation that’s been done and certifies that the site is clean under rules of the VAP. As a result of that, there is a covenant not to sue that’s issued by Ohio EPA as a result of all the work that’s been done to clean up the site. It’s a good tool for property redevelopment so that sites like this don’t sit idle because they can’t be cleaned up.”
“We’re excited at the opportunity,” said Timm. “We’ve made good progress, and it’s taken a little longer than we anticipated, but with any time there’s environmental cleanup there’s unforeseen items that come up. But we’re making good progress and we anticipate getting a covenant not to sue this summer, starting renovation in the fall, and having people moved in and have some new jobs created by the end of the year, start of next year.”
The property is currently divided into about 26 parcels which Bailey said will need to be consolidated before they can be sold. Bailey said she hopes to have a buyer within six months; anyone interested may contact the CEP at (937) 653-7200.