MT. VERNON — The City Council has declared more than 100 properties in the city as surplus, as well as the gym floor in the former armory.
“The surplus items includes the gym floor from the armory, and we will salvage the maple floor,” said City Manager Ron Neibert at the city council meeting Monday night. “We are going to remove the floor and see what happens. We hope to preserve the resource and get it off the property.”
In addition, the city has been awarded a $144,000 matching grant to complete asbestos abatement at the former armory building.
The grant, which is a 50/50 matching grant, was awarded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Tourism Attraction Grant program, Neibert said.
“We hope to begin abatement in the latter part of the summer,” Neibert said. “Then we can prepare and develop the property as a tourism attraction.”
The city received the deed for the property from the state in October 2012. Plans have been in the works before the deed was received to turn the facility into the “Broadway Market” — a venue for a destination including a market, entertainment and a venue for shows and festivals. The concept was presented as part of a branding study for the city, and the Branding Leadership Team, a group of public and private individuals within the community, are working to further the concept. Under plans for a Broadway Market, once completed, the market would be open Thursday through Sunday and include 50 percent locally crafted arts, goods and gifts, 25 percent locally produced farm goods and 25 percent locally prepared foods.
Part of the concept is already underway, as the Mt. Vernon Festivals Committee has leased the former armory as a place to host its Market Days events, with the first event coming up this weekend. The Market Days allow local vendors to set up booths and sell everything from garage sale items to arts, crafts and specialty items.