DELAVAN — While still disappointed the National Guard has left Delavan, the mayor said she's thrilled a Mahomet businessman has bought the local armory for use as a distribution center.
“We are certainly happy that it is sold, but we are still in mourning that the Guard has left,” Liz Skinner said. “But a new business is coming in and the building’s integrity will be maintained. That’s great news for Delavan.”
Matt Underwood of Mahomet said he plans to use the armory as a distribution center for his industrial equipment dealership. He has already switched the name from Swarm 3D to Armory Industrial.
Illinois Army National Guard officials said the bid of $27,351 was accepted in August, and court documents indicate the sale is being finalized. The building remains vacant.
“We buy and sell used industrial equipment,” Underwood said. “We do well enough and do most of our business on eBay, Craigslist and Amazon. We were looking for a bigger place and this just seemed ideal because it is in a good location and it’s got enough space.”
Underwood said the 28,000-square-foot armory, which was built in 1938, is perfect for his needs, although he may want to add a truck dock at some point.
“We get a lot of things in on huge semi trucks and everything goes out piecemeal,” he said. “But, we love the building because there is a lot of office space and a lot of restrooms.
"It gives us some flexibility and in the future, we may want to lease some of it out," he added. "It is also centrally located with good access to (Interstate) 155, which gets you onto Interstate 55. From there, you can head toward St. Louis or Chicago.”
Underwood describes his company as a “mom and pop” operation.
“We don’t have any full-time employees yet, but the key to growing is to have space where you can do business, and this is a big step toward that,” he said. “We hire temporary workers when we need extra help.”
In February 2016, Guard officials announced they were considering closing the facility that housed the 1144th Transportation Motor Transport Battalion. The announcement came as part of the Army’s 202 Redesign Plan intended to modernize facilities across the country, and officials said the armory would need $3 million to $5 million in updates to continue in military use.
Col. Craig Holan previously told local officials the armory annually cost the National Guard about $20,000 in utilities and $15,000 in general maintenance.
In December 2016, the unit was deactivated during a closing ceremony, and Skinner and a handful of Delavan officials worked to find a tenant for the building.
Both Skinner and Underwood say the building remains in good shape.
“It has been taken care of and is in good shape for its age,” Skinner said. “We are just happy to have someone who will be as concerned about the building as we were.”