Historic downtown Urbana site seeks tax credits for $222K renovation


A historic, vacant building in the heart of downtown Urbana might get new life if tax credits are approved by the state.

The building that once housed Little Nashville, a bar just south of the roundabout, has been empty for two years and investor John Doss with Dye and Doss Insurance wants to change that.

“I didn’t really see any prospects of anybody doing anything with it,” Doss said as to why he decided to take up the project. “And besides that, in the ’40s and ’50s, my grandfather owned it. So it’s kind of a sentimental place.”

MORE CHAMPAIGN COUNTY COVERAGE: Deadly Champaign County plane crash changed safety rules

His insurance office is just south of the old bar. An application for historic tax credits filed with the Ohio Development Service Agency shows the total cost of to renovate the 4,475-square-foot building will be about $222,000. The building will house one office inside, and have two residential spaces on the second floor.

Doss has requested $31,000 in tax credits, which are sold to investors to provide money for the development. He said he hopes to have the project completed by next summer.

“The historic tax program is a pretty good deal and it is really nice for small buildings,” he said. “The tax credits makes this project a viable thing.”

Putting buildings to use in downtown Urbana helps everyone in the community, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign County Economic Partnership.

“We have a beautiful downtown with our historic overlay,” she said. “The more we can preserve and restore those buildings, the better our downtown will be.”

READ MORE: Champaign County: How healthy are your schools?

She took a tour of the building with Doss after he bought it about a year ago and said it has a lot of opportunity.

“Any new business is more than welcomed,” she said. “The foot traffic will benefit every business in downtown Urbana.”

Urbana officials have helped with the project. The city wrote a letter that was attached to the tax credit application. Kerry Brugger, Urbana director of administration, said getting the tax credits would improve the community.

“This can eliminate a vacant building,” he said. “When there are vacant buildings, you invite elements you don’t want in your downtown.”

The city wrote the letter to the state to help downtown, Brugger said.

“Anytime you have a vacant building, it’s an eyesore,” he said.

The application also calls it an eyesore. The outside of the building faces Main Street and shows significant signs of wear. But Doss said he’s happy that much of the building hasn’t been tampered with and the design is the same as it was when it was first built in the 1800s.

“It’s still pretty original,” he said.

Another thing he likes about the building is the residential units upstairs. Although the apartments aren’t particularly big, he said having more people moving in and living in downtown Urbana will help the area thrive again. Bailey said research shows there’s a market for people who want to move downtown.

DETAILS: Urbana see savings after low bids on school construction projects

“It’s becoming something that is more and more needed in our downtown,” she said. “I just recently finished up a survey on our local manufacturing engineers as well as their employees and with the rough information that I have, I’m seeing they are looking for some other form of residence besides buying a house — they’re looking for something unique. Downtown lofts could become very popular.”

Doss said property owner won’t make as much money renting lofts in Urbana as in other communities, but could still help the community grow by offering them. Add in the new schools being built and Doss said he’s excited to find out what the future holds for the city.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Spectrum reports TV streaming app service issues
Spectrum reports TV streaming app service issues

Spectrum customers are reporting service interruptions while attempting to use the Spectrum TV app, the company said on Friday afternoon. “Spectrum customers are experiencing a service interruption while attempting to use the Spectrum TV App. This is causing errors including incorrect login information. Technicians are working diligently to restore...
Amazon raises monthly Prime membership rate
Amazon raises monthly Prime membership rate

The monthly membership fee for Amazon Prime rose Friday from $10.99 to $12.99. Company officials said the annual membership will remain at $99 dollars. Monthly customers do not get access to Amazon Video, which costs $8.99 a month. The last Prime subscription hike came in 2014, when Amazon increased its yearly membership from $79 to $99. The e-commerce...
Starbucks testing out stores that do not accept cash
Starbucks testing out stores that do not accept cash

Starbucks is testing out a cashless checkout in stores nationwide. As of Tuesday, one downtown Seattle store accepts only cards or mobile payments, according to a report from KIRO-7. The coffee chain is receiving mixed reviews from customers, some who like the convenience while others worry about privacy issues. Robert Safian, editor of Fast Company...
Top tips for selling your old stuff on eBay (and actually making cash)
Top tips for selling your old stuff on eBay (and actually making cash)

Too much clutter, too little money, too many gifts you didn't like... an eBay auction is one of the simplest solutions to all three issues. If your trash might be someone else's treasure, an eBay business is simple to start and accessible to just about anyone. "It has low start-up costs and it can be started out of your home," noted the ...
Moldy comforter among latest product recalls
Moldy comforter among latest product recalls

The latest product recalls include a potentially moldy comforter, an unstable bassinette, and snow globes that could potentially cause a fire, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.    The Hudson comforters by UGG under recall were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and may contain mold which could pose a risk of infection or respiratory...
More Stories