Work Continues on Bresee Tower Rescue Plan
By Jim Meadows
The Downtown Danville merchants group has been trying for years to find a new use for the old Bresee Tower. Now, the executive director of Downtown Danville Incorporated says they could be ready to announce their plans within a couple of months.
Dana Schaumburg says they’re still finalizing plans for financing the renovation of the 12-story terra cotta skyscraper. But she says the arrangement could include the formation of a new non-profit group to own the building during its renovation. Schaumburg says the new entity would make decisions about repairs and renovations, and might include officials from Vermilion County and the city of Danville on its governing board.
Schaumburg says Bresee Tower’s out-of-state owner is interested in donating the building to a non-profit owner that would take care of renovations. She says renovations at Bresee Tower could run from 5 to 10 million dollars, depending on the amount of work done. But Schaumburg says that once fixed up, the building could meet a growing demand in Danville for upscale apartments.
“There’s definitely a need for that type of housing”, said Schaumburg. “And Bresee Tower has amazing views, and would be a neat living space. We definitely think there’s potential there.
Schaumburg says retail and office space could occupy Bresee Tower’s lower floors. Currently, the building’s only tenants are on the roof --- an array of broadcasting and cell phone towers, including one for WILL’s Danville repeater station at 106.5 FM.
Except for the rooftop towers, Bresee Tower has been empty since 2005. It was built in 1917 as First National Bank, designed in the Classical Revival style by the Chicago firm of Mundie and Jensen. In recent years, braces have been installed to keep its crumbling terra cotta panels in place. And a roof covers the sidewalk to the entrance of the adjacent Vermilion County Courthouse Annex, to protect the public from falling fragments. In 2012, the preservation group Landmarks Illinois put Bresee Tower on its 2012 list of Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in the state.