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.”
That includes diversifying as well as adding to available housing stock in the county, fostering more development of new homes and the redevelopment of old ones as well as preexisting buildings that can be converted to apartments and lofts.
One of the tasks of the housing consortium could be to look at existing zoning and rules in the county and what can be done to make them more conducive to current housing needs, said Marcia Bailey, the director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. That includes also focusing on multi-family housing options, instead of just on single family homes.
“We want development to occur where there is available or nearby infrastructure. We are an agricultural community and we want to be able to preserve agricultural land as well,” Bailey previously told the News-Sun.
A point she said they will continue to focus on.
Efforts to boost the local housing market were temporarily put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, Bailey said they are looking to hold conversations next month and hope to have the housing consortium up and running in the near future.
This follows a series of discussions held in the beginning of the year that went over some of the findings of the comprehensive housing study, which was conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
That organization, according to its website, “is focused on improving the communities of Ohio through growth strategies and research.
Bailey said that she wanted to continue having those conversations as housing is an issue that will not soon go away. She said that having available housing stock and looking at ways to grow the population is key to economic development in the county.
The News-Sun previously reported that lower housing stock, coupled with high demand has led to a continued stable market in the area even during the pandemic.
The study commissioned by the Champaign Economic Partnership looked at common housing challenges in the city of Urbana as well as the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris. It also compared municipalities in the county to others in the state that are tackling similar problems such as having aging housing stock, a fair amount of blighted properties and limited land for new housing developments.
In Champaign County, it was noted that 75% of homes there were built before 1990, according to the Greater Ohio Policy Center.
Additionally, there has been a total of 324 permits filed in the county since 2010 for the construction of single family homes.
It was also found that about 80% of new home construction since 2010 has occurred outside municipal boundaries in the county.
“It can be within a township or another unincorporated territory,” said Maria Walliser-Wejebe, a research associate with the policy center, earlier this year.
The study cost about $40,000 and came from funds set aside by the Champaign County Commissioners that are to be used for economic development. In addition, the analysis offered a total of 22 recommendations that followed six main themes.
The recommendations fell into the categories of prioritizing down towns and main streets, ensuring that local governments are strong partners to development, protecting existing housing stock and preventing it from declining, having creative financing and funding strategies and maintaining affordability.
By Jenna Lawson, Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
The last bit of needed funding has been secured to push forward the ‘Legacy Place’ senior housing project in Urbana.
Sourcing all of the funding has been a tedious multi-year task undertaken by several different parties — but soon residents will start to see the fruits of labor.
“This is going to be a reality,” said Champaign Economic Development Director Marcia Bailey. “It’s not just sketches on a piece of paper. It’s going to be a reality.”
In August, the developers of the project — Flaherty & Collins Properties — applied for a grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati with the help of community partners.
Longtime Springfield business expanding, as it has large customer base in Champaign County city
“Wallace and Turner has always had a large customer base in Urbana and it continues to grow, so it was a natural decision to open a second location there,” said Patrick Field, a partner with the insurance agency. “We want to make the insurance process as simple as possible for clients and having a physical presence will make it even more convenient for them to stop in and ask questions or update their policy.”
Wallace and Turner has operated locally in Springfield since 1870 and provides personal and commercial coverage, according to a news release sent this week.
The agency is also a long-standing member of Associated Risk Managers International, Keystone Insurers Group, Trusted Choice, Ohio Insurance Agents Association and Independent Insurance Agents Association, both in Ohio and nationally, the release said.
“The office addition demonstrates Wallace & Turner’s continued commitment to providing the best services we can to our surrounding communities,” said P.J. Miller , a partner with Wallace and Turner. “Our agency is deeply invested in supporting our clients, their families and businesses, and we look forward to expanding our relationships throughout Urbana.”
Contact this reporter at 937-328-0355 or email Hasan.Abdul-Karim@cmg.com.
Makes good use of vacant building