Saturday, August 31, 2013

Grayville Prepares for Oil Boom

"Let the Boom Begin" is the theme for this weekend's Grayville Days. Located in the heart of the Illinois Basin, White and Edwards Counties can't wait for the start of a new fracking-inspired oil boom. 

They remember the first post-war oil boom in the region in 1950, and while there's still a number of small independent oil producers and oil drilling suppliers, it's nothing like what the region may face if North Dakota-size boom develops over the next few years.

As the picture above shows even the local nursing home is getting into the action with their float.

Below is a sample of the oil equipment residents hope to see much more over the coming months, from Franklin Well Services of Vincennes, Indiana.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mount Vernon Makes Progress

Drury Inn & Suites (under construction - August 2013)

The new 180-room Drury Inn & Suites continues to take shape in Mount Vernon at the interchange of Interstates 57/64 and Illinois Rt. 13. When complete the hotel will also include 3,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space.

The project started in March and replaces a previous Drury Inn and Thrifty Inn on the north side of the highway at 44th Street.

The project also included demolition of the shuttered Best Western (originally built as the Ramada Inn, more than decades earlier). No word yet on what new restaurants or retailers Drury has promised to bring to their development. That northeast quadrant of the interchange also includes Steak 'n Shake, Dale's Harley-Davidson and GenKota Winery.

Down the highway to the east the owners of the Times Square Mall are aggressively seeking new tenants and replacements for Sears. The mall, which first opened in 1974, is currently owned by Pine Tree Commercial Realty, LLC, of Northbrook, St. Louis-based Sansone Group and Elgin-based Wanxiang America Real Estate Group.

Last week the owners announced Hobby Lobby had signed a lease for 52,729 sq. ft. in what had formerly occupied by Sears.

"Kicking off with Hobby Lobby puts our leasing of the soon-to-be-vacant areas of the center in fast gear," said Pine Tree Ex. Vice-President Bruce Boruszak who promised announcements of "additional major new leases in coming weeks."

Meanwhile work continues on the widening and rebuild of Interstates 57/64. As of June 3, IDOT esimated the work at 68 percent complete with completion expected by Dec. 1 this year.

The project includes adding a third lane in both directions "to mitigate traffic congestion... The work consists of new continusouly reinforced concrete pavement, earthwork to build the new lanes and correct slope deficiencies, culvert extensions, guardrail upgrades, pipe underdrains, patching and bridge deck repairs."

The project is the first step in the eventual six-laning of Interstate 57 from its intersection with Interstate 24 south of Marion north to where I-57 and 64 split north of Mount Vernon.

A second phase of the additional lanes also started this summer between Marion and Johnston City.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Missing Pool Hints at Hotel Expansion

First it was the north building of America's Best Inns in Marion that bit the dust to make way for Jim Zeller's Country Inn & Suites back in 2008. Now five years later, the Best Inns pool has literally gone to dust as crews rode their roller back and forth today over the former aquatic amenity.

Zeller actually bought the land, the 60' by 175' tract, back in May for $15 a square foot, which seems to be going rate for commercial property along Halfway Road.

While no official announcement has been made it's believed the move is part of a larger expansion plan which should result in an additional hotel for Marion utilizing at least some of the vacant Drury Inn property off of Morgan Avenue.

UPDATE: [8/24/13] For now the expansion seems to be limited to another nine extended-stay rooms on the north side of the Country Inn & Suites. The new 60' feet of ground leveled off this past week will be parking.

As of Thursday, no building permits had been filed yet with the city.