New Investment Will Revitalize Downtown Urbana
Published: Wed Dec 13 2023
URBANA — Jamon Sellman, local developer, will redevelop a former furniture store building in downtown Urbana into a co-work hub for local small businesses and loft apartments. The project entails a 26,950 square foot renovation and a $2.9 investment. The anchor tenant, WillWork, will occupy about 6,965 square feet.
“The Urbana community is shaping its vision for the future by coming together to spur downtown revitalization and attract more job opportunities,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “The plans to renovate the historic furniture building will attract more businesses to Urbana and enhance overall economic development opportunities for the community.”
"We're proud to support a project that will not only revitalize a piece of Urbana's past, but also contribute to its future growth and prosperity," said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development. "By breathing new life into some of our state's most historic spaces, we're building better futures for our downtowns and creating new opportunities for businesses and residents to thrive."
Located at 219 N. Main Street, the newly renovated building will be a combination of Willman Lofts and WillWork Co-Workspace. The first floor will be WillWork, a hybrid coworking business that provides “one-stop-shop” services via community and expert members as well as staff support for start-up companies and existing businesses. The upper two floors will be converted into loft living space with nine residential units total.
“When we identified the layout and useability of this beautiful historic structure to be nearly irrelevant in today’s retail and commercial standards, we knew we had to redefine its layout and use,” said local developer Jamon Sellman. “We are attempting to redefine our Historic Downtown, one building at a time, with newly reimagined spaces that are cutting edge, usable, and efficient.”
“The building’s history, location, and architectural significance represent a blend of unique qualities that lend to its substantial potential for success as the WillWork space,” said the Owner of WillWork Sarah Mackert. “These qualities include location within Monument Square, architectural significance and unsurpassed scale within that urban core, and community interest in remembering a multi-generational local business that represented Urbana for nearly three-quarters of a century.”
Supporters hope the project will serve as an anchor to catalyze additional investment in downtown Urbana. This project was made possible by the collaborative efforts of Sellman Enterprises LLC, WillWork, JobsOhio, the Dayton Development Coalition, the City of Urbana, the Champaign Economic Partnership, and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau.
“The City of Urbana has taken the right steps to prepare for future growth through prior community planning efforts that identified the need to develop new housing market opportunities and to explore and support policies that repurpose, redevelop, and reoccupy existing development,” said City of Urbana Mayor Bill Bean. “This investment by Sellman Enterprises, LLC and JobsOhio will help Urbana’s downtown become a destination for young professionals and families to live and grow in.”
JobsOhio’s Vibrant Community program supported the revitalization project with a $800,000 grant. The JobsOhio Vibrant Community Program was established to assist small and medium-sized communities with the implementation of catalytic development projects that fulfill a market need and represent a significant reinvestment in Ohio communities. Eligible projects include mix-use projects, real estate development projects, and shared spaces that meet the JobsOhio project criteria.
“The renovation of the Willman Furniture building into apartments and coworking space adds a new dimension to the vibrant and lively downtown the Urbana community is creating,” said JobsOhio President and CEO J.P. Nauseef. “Along with our JobsOhio Network partners at the Dayton Development Coalition, we see the collaboration efforts of many community partners to invest in and rehabilitate the historic building as a catalyst to strengthen placemaking efforts in Urbana.”
In 2018, community leaders and stakeholders began efforts to revitalize the downtown district of Urbana. As part of the strategic plan to bring more housing and entertainment to the downtown district, the need for living and convenient, professional office space was found to be lacking.
“This project represents a unique opportunity to spark continued investment in Urbana’s downtown district,” said Champaign Economic Partnership Economic Development Director Richard Ebert. “We look forward to the significant impact this project will make on the community in many years to come.”