City votes to build new complex on First Street

By Eric Heisig

A new building on First Street will soon be providing another shopping and dining option for Champaign residents.

The Champaign City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with a project that would put a new building at 306 and 306 1/2 N. First St., between Hill and Church streets.

Two houses once stood on the property, which were vacated and demolished in 2005. Once completed, the complex would be named Hambrick Plaza, named after its builder and developer Bob Hambrick.

Hambrick said the plaza will include a family grocery store, a dry cleaners and a restaurant. The plan also calls for apartments located above the stores.

The city will be putting $100,000 toward the project, coming from the Urban Development Action Grant Funding. Hambrick has asked the city to donate the land to him.

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Since the city is putting public funds toward the project, Council members questioned Hambrick during the meeting to be certain he would move forward with the construction in a timely manner.

“We always use a high degree of scrutiny when we are using public funds,” said Tom Bruno, Council member At-Large. “We have to be careful.”

City planning director Bruce Knight assured the Council that, regardless of whether the project moves forward, the public funding for the complex must be used in that area.

If Hambrick opts not to move forward with the project, the public funds must be returned to the city, said city planner T.J. Blakeman.

Gina Jackson, Dist. 1 Council member, said she is pleased about the new project, because it will give citizens who live close to the complex another place to shop for groceries.

“They will not have to go to Meijer or to the Save-A-Lot in Urbana,” Jackson said.