DANVILLE – A longtime local business owner is looking to renovate a vacant commercial property in downtown Danville.
Ed Buckland, owner of Edsel's Excavating in Danville, purchased the lot at the corner of East Main Street and North Cedar Street on June 2, according to records from the Knox County auditor's office. He told village council members June 7 that he plans to renovate the property and build a 2,100-square-foot commercial building on it.
“I was hoping maybe a lawyer’s office and an insurance office – anything," Buckland said. "I’m just trying to draw business this direction."
Buckland paid $10,000 for the lot, which was previously owned by Helen and Robert Truex and Kaye Crumbaker, according to property records. It previously housed a barn, which has since been demolished, Buckland told council.
The property now sits vacant, next to Hull's Sportswear Shop at 9 E. Main St. and across the street from Conway's Danville Pharmacy at 14 E. Main St. Though Buckland said he plans to build a 30x70 commercial building on the property, leaving room for parking on the front and side, he had little else to share during the meeting June 7.
"I do not have a clue what kind of business would rent it or do, or if I would do something there," said Buckland, noting the planning process has just begun. "I just want to get a building put on it and (get it) cleaned up and make it look presentable and nice.”
The property is currently zoned general business, village zoning enforcement officer Lisa Lyons said. Buckland said the building would likely be split into two sections, given the elevation change on the property. This would allow two businesses to potentially occupy the space.
Buckland plans to pave the parking lot and build a six-foot sidewalk that will wrap around the property. The building will also be handicap-accessible.
"I want it to be not an eyesore. The mayor lives right behind it ..." Buckland said with a chuckle. "I was just hoping it would generate (business).”
The surrounding neighborhood – including businesses on Main Street and the homes behind them – currently experiences flooding due to storm water inefficiencies, Mayor Joe Mazzari said. The village could use this project as an opportunity to address those problems, he said.
When asked Tuesday, Buckland said he did not have a timetable for the project. He will work with Lyons to obtain a building permit for the property, he told council, and then go from there.
"I'm just kind of trying to take baby steps," Buckland said.
Buckland, 58, has lived in Danville his entire life. He's owned a business there for 31 years. But this will be his first venture into local commercial real estate development.
Buckland said the motivation behind this new project is simple.
“Danville needs business, they really do," he said. "And if we don’t keep going after them, we won’t get it.”
Council members seemed supportive of Buckland's plans. Given the progress already occurring in the village, with downtown storefronts being renovated and community leaders planning for the future, councilwoman Jill Byers said this project will be another step forward.
“I think it sounds great, the possibility of two new businesses or two new storefronts ..." Byers said. “I think our town’s changing a lot right now.”