North Main Development

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It's been vacant for two years, but now the old K-Mart property on North Main Street could get a facelift, but not everyone's excited about the new project.

Ever since K-Mart checked out two years ago, weeds have been the only thing growing on this Northwest property, but the vacant lot may soon get a second chance at life.

"Building includes a doctor’s office (…) it also includes a restaurant and condos with a base price of $125,000," says Alderman John Beck. The development would be in his ward.

Beck says the city would purchase the seven acres, demolish the building and get the land ready for development. The cost would be over $1 million. Then, the land would either be given to developers or sold below market value.

"The city has to sell bonds and also create a TIF district, or tax increment financing district," says Beck.

But even with the TIF, there would be a $400,000 shortfall and Ninth Ward Alderman Bill Timm has a real problem with the city footing the entire bill.

"I think if we're going to develop something, anywhere we develop something, we should have public and private money involved," says Timm.

Timm says part of the problem, too, has been a lack of communication about the project. He’s only now learning details of the deal. Alderman Beck agrees the lines need to stay open.

"The city tends to bring projects to aldermen and then ask them to support them. The aldermen would like it better if they would work with them from the beginning," says Beck.

The city has come under heat for gobbling up property, like the Ingersoll Building, and doing nothing with it, but Beck says this is different. Given the green light, the development will start immediately.

The plans will be read in at next week's City Council meeting and then sent to the Planning and Development Committee. Alderman Beck says a final decision could come as early as the end of the month.