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CHAMPAIGN – Champaign County home sales perked up in March, running about 13 percent ahead of March 2009.
The jump in sales partially made up for a weak January and February and raised hopes for stronger sales in the year ahead.
URBANA – A string of commercial spaces on the first floor of a University of Illinois parking deck sit empty, almost six years after the $26 million garage was built.
Meanwhile, three blocks away, a university unit is paying more than $250,000 a year to rent offices in a privately owned building developed by a firm whose board of directors includes a UI Foundation executive who was also once a UI vice president.
DANVILLE – In the last 10 years, the city has spent more than $3 million tearing down hundreds of dilapidated residential and commercial buildings.
Most were vacant and neglected by their property owners, and the burden of paying to demolish eventually fell to the city and its taxpayers.
Tired of the blight, other problems associated with vacant buildings and spending limited resources on demolitions, city officials decided to take a more proactive approach to the problem.
CHAMPAIGN – Officials are looking to strengthen their authority over the city's vacant buildings, which they say are the source of much blight in the community.
There were 205 vacant buildings and 17 "underutilized" buildings in the city during a November 2009 survey, the most recent data. Of those, 155 were found to have at least one violation of city codes.
CHAMPAIGN – After Ryann Hubbard Monahan graduated from the University of Illinois, she didn't pack up and leave Champaign-Urbana for a job in Chicago, St. Louis, New York City or elsewhere.
She stayed in town and, after marrying Chris Monahan in February 2009, moved into his condominium at One Main in Champaign and embraced the downtown experience.
CHAMPAIGN – Chris Knight has had his house on the market for 410 days.
But so far, he's found no takers for the 19th-century home at 621 W. Clark St., C.
"I really thought it would sell quickly," Knight said. "Ha! Was I ever wrong! Maybe the market has changed and large ornate Victorians are no longer sought after."
Knight, the owner of the Blind Pig Pub and Blind Pig Brewery in downtown Champaign, bought the house in 2003 for $160,100.
DANVILLE – Last year, 481 Vermilion County homes went into foreclosure.
Although that's 103 fewer than in 2008, it's still more than four times the number of foreclosures in 2006, when only 85 homeowners lost their homes, according to Realty Trac, a national database that tracks foreclosure filings.
CHAMPAIGN – After a strong finish to 2009, Champaign County home sales started the year on a weak note.
Sales of 88 homes were closed in January, down from 99 homes in January 2009, according to the Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service.
The collective dollar value was also down – $12.5 million, compared with $13.6 million in January 2009.
One bright spot for sellers: The average selling price in January was $142,426, up from $137,480 a year ago.
URBANA – Ramshaw Real Estate will begin marketing for development a 156-acre tract at the southwest corner of Philo and Windsor roads in Urbana.
The tract – directly west of The Pines shopping center and east of Meadowbrook Park – is the longtime home of University of Illinois apple orchards. Sometimes known as "the Pell Farm," it is owned by the UI Foundation.
MAHOMET – As Army Sgt. Cameron Crouch toured the inside of his new home on Saturday, he smiled as he shared his favorite part of the specially designed building.
"The elevator; I'm going to go ride that thing," he said, in reference to the custom-made elevator that will aid him in accessing his full, but unfinished, basement.