KANKAKEE — A plan to transform more than half of the downtown Kankakee PNC Bank building into residential space is being considered by a Kankakee businessman looking to purchase the property.
At Wednesday’s Kankakee City Council’s Economic Development Committee meeting, Mike Pinski, who has a contact to purchase the property, told city council members he would be interested in finding a developer to transform 40,000 square feet of the six-story PNC Bank building, 1 Dearborn Square, into residential units.
The residential component would largely be the square footage of floors two through six. Preliminary discussions are there would be 40 to 50 one- to two-bedroom units. Project details are only preliminary at this point.
Pinski previously owned the bank building from 2002 until he sold it to Manteno businessman Buck Tamblyn in September 2005.
Tamblyn also is the owner of the neighboring 55,000-square-foot Clock Tower Centre property, which Pinski also is seeking to purchase. Tamblyn purchased the Clock Tower property in October 2008.
Pinski made it clear he would not be the person developing the residential units, but rather he would be seeking a developer to take on the project. After the meeting, Pinski said there are three tax-credit development corporations interested in the project, meaning one of them could ultimately take ownership of the structure.
A development like this is not for Section 8 housing.
Tax credits are a government-sponsored investment tool which significantly lowers the amount of taxes a developer would be required to pay on a rent-assisted project.
“We must find a new purpose for these buildings,” Pinski said after the meeting. “This is a long range plan and commitment to help stabilize the downtown.” Pinski is the owner of the former Graham Industries building in the 200 block of North Schuyler Avenue.
While the Economic Development Committee did not take an official vote on this project, aldermen noted they were in support of this concept.
Kankakee Planner Mike Hoffman noted downtown living is essential to revitalizing any downtown area. He noted this movement is taking place across the country. The difficult part of the any tax-credit project is getting the commitment from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. Tax credits are highly competitive.
Pinski noted in a best-case scenario, it will likely take a developer at least two years to gain IHDA approval, meaning the multi-million-dollar transformation would not take place until late 2021 at the earliest.
Pinski also noted PNC will remain in the building. He noted the bank only recently signed a new lease.
The development would be similar to the proposed Fountain Square housing project which was proposed for downtown Kankakee three years ago. The 58,000-square-foot, 34-unit project ultimately was never built because the cost of construction exceeded the rents which could have been charged.
The goal of these tax-credit developments is to provide rent-assisted housing for those who are working — in this case, earning about $30,000 a year — but are unable to afford quality housing.
City and downtown leadership have often talked of the desire to bring a substantial residential component to the downtown. The downtown is a busy area during the day, but grows quiet at night as the office space empties.
A substantial residential component could help spur development.
Unfortunately, there is not a shortage of available space in the downtown area. In addition to these two buildings, the former Midland States Bank, 310 S. Schuyler Ave., also just became vacant as it only days ago moved to the former HomeStar Bank location, 255 E. Station St.
HomeStar recently merged with Midland.
The PNC building is estimated to be about 55 percent occupied and Clock Tower about 40 percent.