By: Don Dodson, The News-Gazette

Birkey's, the Rantoul-based farm equipment and construction equipment dealer, plans to move its Urbana, Ill. store to a new site next year.

The dealership is preparing to build a new store at 2202 S. High Cross Road, across the road from and a little south of Village Inn Pizza, said Jeff Hedge, vice president of Birkey's.

If work gets under way on the project this fall, Hedge hopes the new facility can be open by late spring or early summer next year.

The 20-acre site will give the store "three to four times more room" than the current location at 1801 E. University Ave., U, he said.

The new building is expected to be 55,000 to 60,000 square feet, though the company is still finalizing the design.

Birkey's handles both Case IH agricultural equipment, such as tractors and combines, and Case construction equipment, such as dozers, excavators and forklifts.

It's the first facility Birkey's has built from the ground up in many years, Hedge said, noting the company has usually grown through acquisitions.

The new facility will have more showroom space and a service center with greater capacity than the existing store, Hedge said.

Birkey's employs about 36 in Urbana. With the new facility, Hedge said he expects that number to grow to the mid-40s.

Birkey's has 11 ag stores in Illinois - in Urbana, Hoopeston, Oakland, Gibson City, Bloomington, Macomb, Galesburg, Polo, Prophetstown, Annawan and Henry - and one in Williamsport, Ind.

It has four construction equipment stores - in Urbana, Bloomington, Galesburg and Mattoon.

The company has had the Urbana store since 1986, when it acquired the ag franchise formerly held by Power Equipment.

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