Urbana to take control of former longtime eyesore

Urbana is moving forward with plans to take ownership of former Q3 factory and clean it up/demolish it. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Urbana is moving forward with plans to take ownership of former Q3 factory and clean it up/demolish it. Bill Lackey/Staff

The city of Urbana is in the process of taking over an abandoned industrial site as part of a roughly $3 million project to clean the property and eventually transfer it to a new developer.

The former Q3 site at Miami and Beech streets has been an eyesore in Urbana for years, creating concerns about safety, vandalism and drug use on the property. A fire last year destroyed much of it, leaving a ruin behind.

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The Champaign County Board of Revisions gave approval earlier this month to begin the process to transfer the roughly 20-acre property to the city, said Marcia Bailey, economic development coordinator for the Champaign Economic Partnership.

“The approval is in place, we’re just waiting on the final process to go through to get the title actually transferred to the city,” Bailey said.

City leaders had agreed to take it over under the conditions that overdue taxes were cleared off the books and that the city can find funding to tear it down and clean up contamination. A developer has been identified to assist with the cleanup and eventually develop the site, which is zoned for manufacturing.

Local officials haven’t named the developer, but have previously said it could bring between 30 to 50 new jobs to the city.

The property will likely be officially transferred in January, Urbana City Administrator Kerry Brugger said.

“It’s a huge relief for the city and the community at large,” Brugger said of the project. “It’s just an eyesore and it’s a nuisance for safety and a health hazard. We’re really anxious to see the property cleaned up and put back into productive use to make it an asset to the community rather than a drain.”

Local leaders are seeking a $1.5 million grant from JobsOhio to pay for part of the cost to clean the property. Honeywell, a local company with historic ties to the site, has also agreed to pay for a portion of the environmental cleanup, while the city will seek grants and loans to cover additional costs.

“Right now we’re looking at a roughly three-year window to get this all turned around and fully completed,” Brugger said of the project.

The property would be attractive to developers under normal circumstances, he said, but it’s been a challenge to find developers who are willing to commit to a lengthy cleanup process.

“They either don’t have the resources, they don’t have the money or they’re not inclined to work through a project that has that many unknowns,” Brugger said. “If it was a clean property it would have been taken care of a long time ago.”

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has followed the city of Urbana’s actions regarding the former Q3 factory property, including coverage of a fire that damaged the property in 2015 and recent plans to clean the site to encourage new development.

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