Longtime eyesore under new ownership

By Joshua Keeran - [email protected]

After sitting vacant for the past nine years, the former Q3 JMC Inc. property on the west side of Urbana has a new owner – the city.

Director of Administration Kerry Brugger confirmed during Tuesday’s City Council meeting that the city has taken ownership of the 20-acre former manufacturing site containing several structures at 605 Miami St. and 200 Beech St. The deed to the property, he said, was officially signed over to the city on May 11 by Champaign County Sheriff Matthew Melvin.

The city’s long road toward acquiring the property began three years ago when it tried to take ownership via expedited foreclosure. After that request was denied based on the taxes owed on the property being less than the valuation of the property, the city in late 2016 sought ownership again, this time free and clear of all delinquent taxes after announcing it was working on a three-party agreement to redevelop the site.

In December 2016, the Champaign County Board of Revision agreed to begin the process of turning the property over to the city with a clear title.

During Monday’s meeting, council agreed to continue moving forward with the Q3 Cleanup and Redevelopment Project by approving an administrative request to increase a previously approved $15,000 purchase order to Frost Brown Todd LLC for legal services by an additional $7,100.

“I’m comfortable with this (expenditure),” council member Doug Hoffman said. “I expect we are going to spend some more money along the way, but I think the light at the end of the tunnel is what we have to look toward.”

Brugger said the additional legal guidance is a “necessary evil” as the city works to keep the ball rolling in the right direction toward “remediation, excavation and development of the property.”

He added the funds spent on legal services will count toward the city’s agreed upon obligation of providing up to $350,000 of city funds as a match for grant funding being acquired for the the Q3 Cleanup and Redevelopment Project. The funds, he added, can include the cost of in-house services the city provides like engineering or zoning work.

The next step in the project, Brugger said, is getting all three parties involved in the proposed agreement – the city, an undisclosed developer (expected to receive nearly $900,000 in grant funding to clean up the site) and Honeywell Aerospace (responsible for remediating contaminated groundwater on the west side of the property due to its acquisition of Grimes Aerospace) – to sign on the dotted line.

“We are in the process now of trying to finalize our agreement with Honeywell for their portion of the cleanup and finalizing our development agreement with the developer for moving the project forward,” Brugger said.

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.