Another aging downtown building may get a face-lift as a Columbia company has received tax incentives to support its plans to spend $1.5 million to buy the building at 300 E. Main St. and develop 12 “high-end” apartments.
Tygracon Properties Inc. intends to build the apartments on the second and third floors of the building. Tygracon leaders said the first floor of the three-story building would remain commercial, and they expect the current tenant, Hospice of Southern Illinois, to stay there.
To pave the way for the apartments, the Belleville City Council on Tuesday approved a series of incentives for Tygracon.
These incentives include $60,000 in TIF 17 funds to be distributed over a four-year period and a 50 percent rebate of the property tax increases directly related to the building renovation for 10 years, or the end of the TIF 17, whichever occurs first, according to a development agreement.
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An estimate of the amount of the property rebates was not listed in the development agreement.
While Tygracon has not yet started construction, three other current projects to renovate old buildings downtown are underway.
The building at 200 E. Main St. is being converted into Copper Fire Bar and Eatery; two businessmen are renovating 104 E. Main St. for a candy, craft soda and ice cream store called Crafty Sugar Co. that is expected to open mid-March; and Tyler Renner is working on 102 E. Main St. to open an escape room business called Escape 618.
“We chose this location because downtown Belleville, especially East Main, really seems to be on the upswing,” said Karl Gilpin, president of Tygracon Properties. “There’s a lot of good restaurants and bars down there, and there’s not a whole lot of places to stay for people that would like to have a place where they can walk to work, walk to dinner and just have the general urban walking environment.”
Gilpin and his brother, Vic Gilpin, and another partner, Clint Whitley, formed Tygracon Properties. The company’s name is a combination of their sons’ first names: Tyler, Grant and Connor.
The apartments will be called “300,” after the building’s address on East Main Street. The estimated monthly rents will range from $700 for a studio to $1,200 to $1,400 for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment. Construction is expected to be finished by mid-2019.
The pressed aluminum panels on the exterior of the building are expected to remain in place, but the glass block windows will be replaced with regular windows.
Gilpin said he and his partners like the “retro” look of the aluminum cladding, which was installed in 1955 when the Schaufler Drug Store opened on the first floor.
Bob Brunkow, historian for the Belleville Historical Society, said the former Schaufler Drug Store had a lunch counter and advertised that it was a “self-service drug store” for nonprescription items.
The second and third floors were occupied by physicians and dentists, Brunkow said.
Indeed, Gilpin said dental chairs are still in the building.
The building has features of the International Style of architecture that eliminated most architectural details and favored horizontal and vertical lines, Brunkow said.
Gilpin, who recently retired from the U.S. Army, said his company has been investing in metro-east real estate for about 17 years.
Tygracon has the building under contract but has not yet purchased the building. Gilpin, who said he is working with Citizens Community Bank of Freeburg for financing, declined to disclose the expected purchase price of the building.
Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said Tygracon likes the “energy” found in downtown.
“I believe they’re going to take an old building and breathe some new life into it,” Eckert said. “We’re excited. This is big for downtown. We need more and more people living downtown.
“It’s going to help our restaurants and stores.”
Gilpin said the project would not be able to get off the ground without the tax incentives granted by the City Council.
Here are additional details about the incentives:
- Belleville will spend an estimated $16,000 to improve sidewalks on the east side of the first block of South Church Street.
- The city will pave and share maintenance of parking lots behind the proposed apartments. The estimated cost of the paving is $24,000.
- The city will lease 12 parking spaces to Tygracon Properties in the city-owned parking garage at the intersection of South Church and East Washington streets.
- Tygracon must invest at least $1.5 million in buying and remodeling the building within 18 months after closing on the property.
- Tygracon must allow for public parking on half of a parking lot behind the building between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday.
- Tygracon must remain in operation at the site for at least 20 years.
- If Tygracon does not complete its requirements outlined in the development agreement, the company must repay all public funds it received, according to the penalty clause in the agreement.