The Belleville City Council on Monday night agreed to spend about $121,000 to replace the roof on the former Meredith Home/Hotel Belleville building that developers may convert into senior apartments and retail space.
The Southwestern Illinois Development Authority and the Bywater Development Group of St. Louis have proposed a $12 million plan to renovate the vacant building on the Public Square. The City Council voted last month to authorize city staff to enter into negotiations on a redevelopment agreement for the project.
Aldermen voted 12-2 to pay Joiner Sheet Metal and Roofing $120,864 for the new roof. Work is expected to begin early next month on the building that opened as the Hotel Belleville in 1931. It later was the Meredith Home for seniors and the city bought the building in 2010.
Hopefully, this will be redeveloped, repurposed and bring some life back into that building and to that particular quadrant of the square.
Mayor Mark Eckert
“I think the public came out very clear in recent years that they don’t want to see this building with the history that it has to be” demolished, Mayor Mark Eckert said.
Eckert said the cost to control asbestos and demolish the building could be as high as $1 million, more than double the amount that the city first heard it could cost.
“So that changed a lot of our thinking,” Eckert said. “Hopefully, this will be redeveloped, repurposed and bring some life back into that building and to that particular quadrant of the square.”
Ward 2 Alderman Mike Buettner and Ward 3 Alderman Scott Tyler opposed the Meredith Home plan.
Without a deal in place, it’s just hard for me to say, ‘Let’s spend $120,000’ and, you know, a year or two down the road, end up tearing this building down.
Ward 3 Alderman Scott Tyler
“Without a deal in place, it’s just hard for me to say, ‘Let’s spend $120,000’ and, you know, a year or two down the road, end up tearing this building down,” Tyler said.
Buettner echoed Tyler’s reasoning.
“I just can’t see spending that kind of money without any guarantee that we’re even going to be able to save the building,” Buettner said.
Bob Brunkow, the historian for the Belleville Historical Society, urged the City Council to vote for the new roof so the Meredith Home/Hotel Belleville can “become the focal point of Belleville’s renaissance.”
In other business
▪ Aldermen approved a development agreement with Todd Kennedy, owner 4202 Main Street Brewing Co. Kennedy plans to turn the old Mad Pricer grocery store at 64th and West Main streets into a brewery and bar. Kennedy has requested an exemption of up to $81,000 on state sales tax for construction materials. He expects to spend $2.2 million on the new brewery project.
Since the specialized brewer equipment he needs is not available in Illinois, Kennedy said he does not expect to need the entire amount of $81,000 in tax breaks.
▪ Richard Randolph received a plaque in recognition for his quick thinking after lightning struck his home on July 13. He was able to twice put out a fire and turn off the gas to prevent a fire in the home where his mother, Patricia Randolph, lives on South 47th Street. Fire Chief Tom Pour noted that the fire department had received 100 calls for help during the storm that night and that Richard Randolph’s actions helped save Patricia Randolph, who uses a wheelchair.