In its ongoing efforts to get the former Q3/JMC Inc. property back into productive use, the city of Urbana laid out a plan for cleaning up the 20-acre site at 605 Miami St. to members of the Champaign County Board of Revision during a special meeting held Tuesday at the county commission office.
City Director of Administration Kerry Brugger opened discussions by stating, “We are here to formalize our earlier discussion or letter requesting that the Board of Revision move forward with releasing the Q3 property to the city of Urbana.”
The city previously stated it would accept the property from the county free and clear of delinquent taxes and assessments as long as it could also acquire the necessary funding needed to clean up the property. On Nov. 15, Urbana City Council was informed a three-party agreement is in the works among the city, a developer who would oversee the property and receive nearly $900,000 in grant funding to clean up the site, and Honeywell, who would be responsible for remediating contaminated groundwater issues on the west side of the property that the company became liable for when it acquired Grimes Aerospace.
While everything appears to be in place to move forward with the cleanup of the property, Brugger added, there is still a chance the plan could fall through.
“We have not signed the final agreements with everybody,” he said. “If all three of us can’t finalize that, then, obviously, we don’t have a need for the property. We are lined up with Honeywell. We just haven’t finalized the agreement with the developer until they get their agreement finalized with the grantor. If they don’t come to terms, then we don’t have a developer.
“We are asking for (the property) based on what we know today so that we can start the process,” Brugger added.
County Commissioner Dave Faulkner, who serves on the Board of Revision along with the county auditor and treasurer, addressed the city’s request for ownership by questioning the timing.
“Why should we give you the property before you have your ducks in a row? You should come to us with those things in line,” he said.
In response, Brugger said the city wanted to “solidify our interest today that we are going forward and assuming everything is going to fall into place.”
He added the city didn’t want to continue working on the project only to find out the county had another plan in mind for the property.
Faulkner said another issue he has with the city’s request to take ownership is the agreement has changed from working with an end user to redevelop the property to now a developer being brought on board.
“It’s a whole different thing now than it was originally,” he said. “That’s the problem I’ve got with it. It’s not the same deal.”
While Brugger added the board is at liberty to do as it wishes with the property, he questioned what will become of the eyesore if it continues to sit untouched.
“If we don’t do something, the county is not going to do anything,” he said. “The problem is we have a property in our city that has been neglected and sitting there since 2008. Nobody has stepped up, but the city has finally stepped up.”
From an economic development standpoint, Marcia Bailey, economic development director for the Champaign Economic Partnership, said the development agreement will contain a marketing program aimed at getting the site back into productive use, which would help create new jobs.
“We are just trying to get it cleaned up so we can create jobs,” she said. “The grant itself is not enough to clean everything up, so the city has to put a match to it (over $300,000) and so does the developer (over $100,000). Honeywell will be responsible for their half.”
To allow for the city’s request for an order of transfer for the property to be publicized prior to the matter undergoing a vote, the board decided to revisit the issue at its next meeting, scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the county commission office, 1512 S. U.S. Route 68.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.