Which would you rather have in downtown Belleville, a productive office building or another parking lot? That's the choice that Kurt Artinger's business Replacement Services LLC offers the city. Artinger wants to turn the city-owned YMCA into office space for his growing company, which currently has 36 employees, and a business incubator. There have been a lot of pie-in-the-sky ideas about how to reuse the old Y, but this is the first one that seems to be a solid plan that includes private financing.
Artinger wants to buy the building from the city for $1 -- what the city paid for it -- and is seeking up to $210,000 in tax increment financing funds. He would get about $20,000 in sales tax breaks on building materials. That would be a good deal considering it would cost about double that for the city to demolish the building. And after years of sitting vacant, that's where this building was headed until Artinger, a self-described "old-time Belleville guy," made his proposal.
Artinger told the committee that he's willing to spend his own money on more testing to make sure the project is feasible, but that he needs to make sure the city is on board before he does that. Fair enough.
The proposed agreement wasn't finished prior to the Finance Committee meeting, but if the details are worked out satisfactorily in a way that protects the taxpayers, the City Council should give this project a green light.