Village board wants more quotes on repairing old bank building

RANTOUL — The village board wants more estimates of the cost to shore up the former First National Bank building in downtown Rantoul.

The only bid for the work so far — for $368,000 — was significantly higher than the amount estimated by an architect hired by the village last fall of $60,000-$75,000.

The work will involve a temporary closure and covering the northeast corner; a temporary closure and covering the east masonry wall; and patching the roof.

Village Building Inspector Bob Ward said he thought the architect’s estimate for the work was too optimistic.

“To the best of my knowledge, this building cannot just be patched due to the wall on the east side being so deteriorated. If work were to start, the rest of the wall could have the potential of falling in,” Ward said in a written report presented at the board’s study session last week.

Ward also said just patching the roof won’t work.

He said the collapse of the roof into the second floor has weakened the entire structure. It has significantly damaged the interior. The building is rife with mold, weak floors, has a collapsed ceiling and a flooded basement. Animals have defecated inside.

“... It is unsafe to allow anyone to perform work on this building because of all the issues. There are too many liabilities,” Ward said.

The architect in the fall had estimated the cost to entirely remodel the building into apartments at $2.8 million. But Ward said on a cash-flow basis that is not feasible for a private investor.

Land bank
At its monthly meeting June 12, the board will be asked to authorize a grant agreement with the Illinois Development Housing Authority regarding the creation of a land bank. The Housing Authority has approved a $150,000 grant to fund a feasibility analysis, start-up and organization of the land bank.

The village is serving as the lead agency in seeking to implement a countywide land bank, which would identify, acquire, stabilize and repurpose for productive uses specific real estate assets in the county and region.

“The purpose is to deal with blighted property,” Village Administrator Rick Snider said. “(A land bank) would make it more economical to acquire, maintain and disperse these properties to get them back on the tax rolls.”

Garbage rates to increase
The board was asked to approve an increase of garbage pickup rates.

The initial rate of $14.20 per resident enacted Aug. 1, 2015, would climb to $14.75 on Aug. 1; to $15.30 May 1, 2019, and to $15.80 May 1, 2020.

Until now the village has absorbed the rate increases built into the contract from Area Disposal for two years. Comptroller Pat Chamberlin said with Area Disposal increasing its rate 3.01 percent in August, it will be necessary for the village to hike the charge to cover costs and to maintain a two-month fund balance reserve.

Enterprise zone expansion
The board was also asked to increase the size of the village enterprise zone to encompass virtually the entire village, including residential areas.

If the expanded zone is approved by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the village is expected to approve a residential rebate program that will include reduced property taxes for those undertaking new construction and rebates on sales tax for new construction. The goal is to spur additional residential growth and increase property values and equalized assessed valuation of the village.

The Rantoul City Schools board has approved participation in the program, but the Rantoul Township High School board has demurred. Village officials from other area communities also served by RTHS have objected to a program that would benefit only Rantoul.

Air-conditioning goes down
The board was asked to approve the expenditure of $46,081 to Duden & Silver, Gilman, to replace the failed HVAC units serving the village board room and north hallway of the municipal building.  

Public Works Director Greg Hazel said the building’s HVAC system consists of multiple units, most of which are more than 35 years old.

“Staff has kept the HVAC system operating as long as possible, but this failed unit has previously endured numerous issues and coil leaks and has reached a point where it can no longer be repaired,” Hazel said.

Willow Pond Road work
The board was asked to approve a $970,110 contract with Cross Construction, Urbana, for roadway improvements of Willow Pond Road, from about 300 feet north of Birdie Drive to Golfview Road.

The project includes pavement replacement, pavement patching, storm sewer improvements, curb and gutter, sidewalk replacement at spot locations and parkway restoration.

Air Force gives over property
The board was asked to approve the formal acceptance of four deeds from the U.S. Air Force on the former Chanute Air Force Base — Hangar 3’s southside/loading dock area; the load-out area for Ag Aviation (crop dusters), the Hangar 3 structure; and the Hangar 2 structure.

Three of the parcels are part of the sale of three hangars to a Los Angeles businessman approved in March. Hazel said the village is still waiting for the transfer of one more parcel associated with Hangar 1 as part of the purchase agreement.

Jimmy John’s sign
The board was asked to approve a zoning variance for Jimmy John’s, 710 W. Champaign Ave., to be allowed to erect a large highway sign on its property.

By village ordinance, such a sign must be within 2,000 feet of the interstate and no closer than 500 feet from a residential district. The sign, however, will be 3,100 feet from the interstate and 90 feet from the closest residential district. The variance was recommended by the planning and zoning commission based on the fact that other businesses in that area have large highway signs.

Roof condition worse than thought
The board was asked to approve a change order to the roof project at 505 Condit Drive.

Hazel said a storm damaged the building last year. Insurance money covered the cost of replacing shingles damaged in the storm. But as the project progressed, it was determined the roof also had significant damage to the underlying plywood and insulation on the southwest facing half of the roof.

Hazel said the additional work will cost $117,760 and will not likely be covered by insurance — in which case it will be covered by TIF funds.
 
Consolidated loans
The board was asked to approve the consolidation of three EDA loans to Amerinvest, Rantoul, totaling $375,375.

The loans were initially made for the remodeling of the Prairie Village Assisted Living facility. Amerinvest sold the facility a few years ago and has agreed to substitute Prairie Village (now Eagle’s View) for other collateral, which Snider said exceeds the amount of the loan.

Snider said the company continues to make regular payments on the three loans. The loan consolidation is simply a means to simplify the payment process. The loans will be paid back at $5,543 per month at 4 percent interest over 6.5 years at the current amount.

The proposal was recommended by the village Economic Development Administration committee.

Trustee Terry Workman asked if problems with stormwater build up on one property owned by Amerinvest had been rectified.

Snider said village inspectors have gone to the site, issued a letter to the property owner, and “while it hasn’t been entirely ameliorated, they are working on it.”

dhinton@rantoulpress.com

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