He's done something like this before. Jimmy John Liautaud offered to pay for the street by his home to be repaved and the one near his corporate offices. But, city leaders say they never expected anything like this.
There's no snow or ice left after this past winter, but if you want a lot of little reminders of the weather we had, look no further than the streets.
"We're always repaving streets, but we're usually taxing people for the money to do that," said Champaign Deputy Mayor Tom Bruno.
That's why city leaders are excited for a $1 million gift from Jimmy John Liautaud's company.
"This thing is just, 'tell us where your worst streets are. We'll spend a million bucks to pay for some of those.' That's a pretty significant donation," said Bruno.
Bruno says a gift like this isn't completely unheard of. Community members donated green space like Trevett-Finch Park and someone else gave Champaign land for its city building. But, this is a little different.
"The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts was a gift of Herman C. Krannert and his wife, but paving a street, that's a little bit less sexy," said Bruno.
Even though Jimmy John's name is outside his restaurants, there won't be any way for drivers to know who paid to fix their streets.
"Not only, no strings attached, but none of that usual ego stuff of, 'you can build that, but I want my name on it' or 'I want the naming rights to that stadium,'" said Bruno.
So, even though they're not sure why he's doing it, city leaders say they're grateful.
"It's unique and unusual and it's an act of generosity by a very successful, local businessman," said Bruno.
There are three areas which will be repaved because of his donation; Church Street from Mattis to Prospect; the neighborhoods east of Kraft and south of Bradley; and along Market Street from Bradley to I-74. All the work is expected to be done this year.
Liautaud told us he wanted to donate the money to the city because he felt it was the right thing to do. He says he likes to see things done right, and since the city can't afford to pay for all the projects right away, he wanted to pay it forward.
Even though Jimmy John wants to donate the money, there are still some formalities to take care of. The proposal will go before the city council during the first meeting in August. Deputy Mayor Tom Bruno says he hasn't talked about it with other council members, but assumes it will pass.
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