Articles on Hambrick Plaza

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Articles on Hambrick Plaza


Businesses--Hambrick Plaza, Geography--North First Street


Article 1: City votes to build new complex on First Street
Plaza to hold dry cleaners, grocery
Text: A new building on First Street will soon be providing another shopping and dining option for Champaign residents.

The Champaign City Council voted Tuesday night to move forward with a project that would put a new building at 306 and 306 1/2 N. First St., between Hill and Church streets.

Two houses once stood on the property, which were vacated and demolished in 2005. Once completed, the complex would be named Hambrick Plaza, named after its builder and developer Bob Hambrick.

Hambrick said the plaza will include a family grocery store, a dry cleaners and a restaurant. The plan also calls for apartments located above the stores.

The city will be putting $100,000 toward the project, coming from the Urban Development Action Grant Funding. Hambrick has asked the city to donate the land to him.

Since the city is putting public funds toward the project, Council members questioned Hambrick during the meeting to be certain he would move forward with the construction in a timely manner.

"We always use a high degree of scrutiny when we are using public funds," said Tom Bruno, Council member At-Large. "We have to be careful."

City planning director Bruce Knight assured the Council that, regardless of whether the project moves forward, the public funding for the complex must be used in that area.

If Hambrick opts not to move forward with the project, the public funds must be returned to the city, said city planner T.J. Blakeman.

Gina Jackson, Dist. 1 Council member, said she is pleased about the new project, because it will give citizens who live close to the complex another place to shop for groceries.

"They will not have to go to Meijer or to the Save-A-Lot in Urbana," Jackson said.

Article 2: Plan for North First retail plaza gains OK
Text: CHAMPAIGN – North First Street will likely be getting a convenience store in coming months, after the city council gave its tentative approval to a proposal to develop a small retail plaza with three upstairs apartments.

Council members voted 8-0 Tuesday night to direct city staff to negotiate a development agreement for 306 and 306.5 N. First St. with Robert Hambrick Sr.

Under the arrangement, the city would award Hambrick a $100,000 grant and give him the two city-owned properties. Hambrick said he intends to build a brick building on the site, to be called Hambrick Plaza, that would include space for three small businesses on the ground level and three upstairs apartments.

The building itself would cost an estimated $550,000. It would include 2,650 square feet of commercial space total and three apartments, each with more than 900 square feet of space.

Hambrick told council members that he wants to operate a small convenience store with his family that would offer milk, bread, ice cream and a pay station, among other things. City officials said there is a Class A liquor license available that could also go to the store.

"It'll be a nice environment," said Hambrick. "I'm really excited and looking forward to this."

He said the convenience store might take up two of the commercial spaces. He would look for a tenant for the remaining commercial space, saying a restaurant or a drop-off laundry are possibilities.

Hambrick operates Hambrick & Son Funeral Home, 203 N. Market St., C, with his son, Robert Hambrick Jr.

Council members said they are excited about the prospect of a local businessman adding new businesses to North First Street, which the city has been working to redevelop for two decades.

"This will be a wonderful addition to the neighborhood, especially for those seniors who can't get out," said Gina Jackson, who represents District 1.

Council members asked several questions about financing for the project, some of them admitting they were gun-shy after the failure of the Lone Star Lodge on the same street left the city holding more than $600,000 in loans and a building worth roughly half that amount.

Assistant City Manager Dorothy David said the grant funds would come from an Urban Development Action Grant fund the city has. The money in the fund was given to the city with no strings attached by the federal government after a downtown bank received a federal loan and repaid it, she said. The same fund was used to purchase the two lots that would be given to Hambrick in 2005 for $39,500.

City Planner T.J. Blakeman said, in response to a question from council member Tom Bruno, that the city could include deadlines for Hambrick to meet in the development agreement. Hambrick said he wants to start construction by this summer or fall.

Hambrick said he wants his building and business to serve as an inspiration to young blacks.

"Young people need to be able to look and say, 'Mr. Hambrick got something going, I can get something going,'" he said.


Daily Illini and News-Gazette


March 25 and 26, 2008

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Daily Illini and News-Gazette, "Articles on Hambrick Plaza," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #159, https://eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/159 (accessed February 22, 2024).

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