June 4, 2014

Council to consider new site for Bank of Belleville

The pieces have fallen into place for the relocation of the Bank of Belleville as part of a deal for new police headquarters.

The Bank of Belleville will relocate from 720 W. Main St. to the 200 block of South Illinois Street. The move will allow the site on Main Street to be turned into a new station for the Belleville Police Department.

The bank, which began in 2005, will demolish the buildings housing the city's public services offices at 213 S. Illinois St. and a building at 219 S. Illinois St. in order to make way for a new bank headquarters at the site. The bank purchased the city's building for $225,000 -- the price the property is appraised.

The city's aldermanic Economic Development and Annexation Committee approved an incentive package for the bank during a meeting Wednesday night. The incentives include rebating half of the site's property taxes up to $272,000, $60,750 in sales tax abatements on building materials and $50,000 for asbestos abatement.

The proposed incentives are about 11 percent of the total cost to build the estimated $3.4 million bank headquarters.

The new site will offer greater access and convenience for customers in a high profile location, according to Bank of Belleville President Kevin Pesko.

"We have maintained a steady path of growth over the years and, in the last year alone, we have grown 14 percent. Looking to the future, we need space that allows us to have a more suitable floor plan and additional square footage to accommodate more growth. We are near capacity now so we welcome additional space so we can continue to expand our staff and customer base," Pesko said.

"Downtown Belleville has worked well for us and it is the most central location to serve our sprawling customer base in Belleville and the surrounding communities," Pesko added. "After looking at a variety of options, we found this one to be the most suitable to our needs and the needs of our customers."

Design plans are currently incomplete, but the bank expects construction to begin this fall and be completed the summer of 2015.

Mayor Mark Eckert said the agreement, which must be approved by the full city council, is the culmination of more than a year of planning.

"We're excited about the new project on Illinois Street and appreciate their cooperation, which has made the new police station possible," Eckert said. "They've (bank officials) have been a great partner with the city."

Staff with the city's engineer, housing and health departments that are currently housed at 213 S. Illinois St. will move to the former Metro East Title Building, located at 407 E. Lincoln St. At a City Council meeting Monday, aldermen authorized the mayor to sign a $235,000 contract to buy the office space and adjacent parking lot. The parking lot will also be available for public use.

City staff will work out of the building on East Lincoln Street for about three years and will be not move to City Hall until after about $5 million in renovations are complete, Eckert said.

Earlier this year, city leaders approved spending $3.1 million to buy the building at 720 W. Main St. and spending $85,000 to buy land next to the site to build a parking garage for the Police Department. The estimated the cost of retrofitting the Bank of Belleville building for Police Department headquarters is expected to be about $7 million.

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