‘Pretty exciting’: Belleville in talks with developer interested in Meredith Memorial Home

A developer is in negotiations with the city of Belleville to take over the Meredith Memorial Home building, which had been considered for demolition.

Mayor Mark Eckert said he could not release the name of the developer or details of the proposal but he is “cautiously optimistic” about the talks underway.

He said an announcement could be made this month about a proposed development agreement, which would include tax incentives.

I think this project is pretty exciting for the city.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert

The six-story Meredith Home building at 16 S. Illinois St. towers over the Public Square. It was previously a hotel that opened in 1931 and senior citizens home that opened in 1962.

“I think this project is pretty exciting for the city,” Eckert said. It would not only save the brick building from demolition but could spur further economic development downtown, the mayor said.

Rick Ortiz, the former director of the Belleville Main Street organization, created a Save the Belleville Meredith Home page on Facebook.

Ortiz said he did not know details of the proposal being considered by the city but he is happy the city is working with a developer.

The city purchased the Meredith Home from the Catholic Diocese of Belleville in 2010 and had planned to demolish it.

Belleville attorney Bruce Cook and his wife, Sandra Cook, gave the city $500,000 to pay off the city’s $492,101 loan so the site could be turned into a park to honor their late daughter. However, this plan was put on hold to see whether a developer could be found to renovate the building.

In 2014, Landmarks Illinois listed the building as one of the 10 “most endangered historic places” in the state that year. The preservation group said the “prominent art deco” building was known as Hotel Belleville for decades and was designed by Walter P. Manske of the St. Louis firm of Manske and Bartling.

The Belleville Historical Society said local civic leaders helped raise money for a down payment for the $400,000 construction cost during the early days of the Great Depression.