Belleville

Belleville entrepreneurs may find homes in former YMCA

Small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Belleville area may soon have new office space to lease in the heart of downtown.

The idea is to create a “co-working space” office. Kurt Artinger, who redeveloped the old YMCA building at 15 N. First St. for his company Replacement Services LLC, plans to renovate another section of the building for entrepreneurs.

On Monday, the Belleville City Council’s Finance Committee approved a request for a $4,000 tax incentive for the second phase of the redevelopment of the 90-year-old building.

Artinger envisions people who now run businesses out their home may be interested in the site for $125 per month.

He hopes up to 40 people use it. The amenities would include a desk, Internet service and use of a printer.

“In St. Louis, it’s extremely popular,” Artinger said.

A development agreement calls for Artinger to invest $120,000 in renovations and the city would certify the project’s location in the Belleville enterprise zone for the abatement of sales tax on building materials used in the project. This sales tax break is estimated to be $4,000.

Along with space for entrepreneurs, Artinger said another part of the building will be renovated so out-of-town lawyers can rent office space to meet clients for $175 to $200 a month.

Replacement Services has over 40 employees who moved to the building last year after a more than $1 million renovation. The firm develops software for insurance companies and it assists the companies with handling jewelry claims.

“We absolutely love the space,” Artinger said. “I can tell you the city was extremely helpful, without their help, we could not have done that project.”

Replacement Services received $334,000 in tax increment financing and Artinger invested another $700,000. The large brick building initially was the home for the Belleville Turners group before it was used as the YMCA.

Artinger said his employees love working downtown where they can shop and dine in restaurants.

“For us it was a home run,” he said.

In other business Monday, the Finance Committee approved a bid for eight new SUVs for the Police Department.

Tri Ford dealership of Highland had the lowest bid for the Ford Explorers at $215,223. The city will still need to spend about $23,000 on each vehicle to have equipment installed.

The measures do not become final until the full council approves them.

Contact reporter Mike Koziatek at mkoziatek@bnd.com or 618-239-2502. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKoziatekBND.

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