Former Midland States Bank building, downtown Kankakee

The former Midland States Bank building in downtown Kankakee has been sold. Extensive renovations are planned, with work expected to begin by September. Developers are aiming to have the property ready for tenants in early 2022. READ MORE

Business developer Brian Loftin knew nothing about Kankakee when a visit to the Chicago Bears training camp brought him to the area two years ago. But before he left, he engaged in a detailed self study of the city.

“I didn’t know about this area at all,’’ Loftin, a Schaumburg resident and owner of Preservation Realty, said. “I drove to the downtown. I drove along the river. I could start to see the bones of this town. There is a great story that happened here and one that can still be told.’’

While it’s obvious Loftin had nothing to do with Kankakee’s rich history, he and fellow investor and Milwaukee resident Joshua Jeffers are determined to continue the story.

As reported on the front page of the Daily Journal on Tuesday, Loftin and Jeffers demonstrated their commitment by recently purchasing the former Midland States Bank Building, which fills a city block immediately south of the corner of Station Street and Schuyler Avenue in the heart of the downtown.

Former bank buildings can become an albatross for communities, as online banking allows customers to do business without visiting large brick and mortar structures.

But where some might have seen a tough sell, Loftin and Jeffers saw opportunity. They are now working into transforming the building into a mixed use facility focused on serving as a business incubator where budding entrepreneurs can find structure and support to make their dreams become reality.

The transformation of the banking business is just one example of how innovation has changed our lives for the better.

It’s hard to envision what innovations lie ahead, but there is a growing possibility the seeds of future development will be planted here once the property is ready for use in early 2022. A new chapter in the city’s story is about to be written.