DECATUR– The corridor just south of Central Park is getting a face-lift with the expansion and renovation of Firstech Inc. next to Busey Bank.
The payment processing company has called Decatur home for thirty-plus years, says CEO Howard Mooney, and that played into their decision to build downtown, “I am from here so I’ve always had a commitment personally, but from a business perspective, we have had a successful run for 30 years so the investment, as much as anything, was about the people and what they’ve created here and our desire to expand on that in the future.”
The renovation project is expected to cost $3.5 million and will see improvements to the interior and exterior of the building, as well as the demolition of the two buildings just south of it. Mooney says a new parking lot will be built in the space where the old buildings were and a drive through lane for Busey Bank will also be added there.
“It is nice to see the ripple effect of our $14,000,000 downtown renovation project,” Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said. “This project will not only continue our beautification efforts, but it will also retain workers which is a huge benefit to retailers and restaurants in the area.”
Economic Development Corporation President Ryan McCrady said the development will utilize the downtown enterprise zone, which will allow Firstech to purchase construction supplies with a sales tax exemption, and will also offer them a 5 year graduated abatement on any additional property values.
“We don’t write these checks up front,” McCrady said, “So this isn’t like we are giving them money in good faith, they actually have to make the investment, see it through, and make sure they do what they say they are going to do, to see any of these benefits.”
With the Decatur expansion, FirsTech will keep 50 jobs in the community, instead of moving them to other locations.
Mooney says they plan to put out bids for construction on the project next month, with construction scheduled to begin in March. Mooney says construction should extend through the early part of summer before the demolition process on the other two buildings begins. He says they hope to have all construction and demolition finished by the end of the 2016 calendar year.