UCC proposes music venue

By Jonathan Jacobson

C-U residents may have a new outdoor venue for live music in time for the summer concert season.

The Urbana City Council on Monday night addressed the potential for turning the top floor of the Urbana parking garage, located in the heart of downtown Urbana, into a venue for music concerts and other parties on weekend nights.

The entertainment events would be hosted by Ian Goldberg, owner of the Canopy Club, and Scott Glassman, owner of Crane Alley.

“We’re trying to reinvigorate downtown Urbana,” said Goldberg, who thought of the idea with Glassman over a year ago.

Goldberg has the support of Councilwoman Danielle Chynoweth (Ward 2), who said that the weekend conversion could turn downtown Urbana into “something really beautiful,” but the meeting was not short of Urbana residents actively opposed to the proposal.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

Carolyn Baxley, who owns the Cinema Gallery, an art gallery at 120 W. Main St., said the new venue would take away parking spots, thereby damaging her business.

“It’s a mystery to us why you would allow this lease,” Baxley said. “The deck is a bad place for this, period.”

Gabe Osagi, who said he leases space to some lawyers in Urbana, joined Baxley in the fight against the possible late night entertainment, claiming that his tenants threatened to leave if the proposal went through.

“It’s always difficult enough to find tenants,” Osagi said.

Although there were a fair amount of opponents, the potential venue also had supporters at the meeting.

“When I heard about this proposal, I was excited,” said Robert Naiman, Urbana resident. “In principle, I think this is a good idea and I think most people in Urbana would say the same.”

Despite Baxley’s claim that the proposal would hurt local business, Lorene Anderson, who owns an Urbana health shop, said she believes it will boost interest in retail.

“I’m thinking a venue like this would be a fabulous draw,” Anderson said. “If something like this were to come to Urbana, this is where (residents) would go.”

The council also heard from City Attorney Jim Gitz, who addressed some of the technical aspects of the venue, including the invention of a completely different liquor license, food distribution licenses and decibel testing to measure the amount of noise coming from the two currently-allowed speakers.

“We’re trying to propose something creative and innovative,” Goldberg said. “We understand that some people will be upset. We will work together with the council to address any concerns that may come up.”

One of the most outspoken opponents of the plan was Dave Kraft, who runs his business and lives within 100 feet of the Urbana parking garage.

He said that excessive noise pollution, even if the council allowed it, would be illegal according to standards set by the Illinois Pollution Board.

“We’re going to have Unofficial St. Patrick’s day every week,” Kraft said, prompting a laugh from both Goldberg and Glassman. “I don’t know where everyone’s going to park if every parking garage becomes a beer garden.”