CHAMPAIGN – It's probably no big surprise, given the national recession, but records show that new construction in Champaign and Urbana is down substantially for the first seven months of 2009.
New housing starts in both cities are also weak, with Champaign seeing just 44 new single-family home permits being issued so far this year and Urbana 24.
The situation is similar in Danville, where there have been three housing starts this year (down from nine in 2008) and the value of all new construction is $10.1 million, down from 2008 year-end totals of $22.3 million.
CHAMPAIGN – Last year, construction on campus was overshadowed – literally – by two big apartment projects in Champaign: the 18-story Burnham 310 complex on Springfield Avenue and the 24-story 309 Green complex on Green Street.
This year, several new residential projects have been going up on the west side of campus, despite a slower construction year. Here's a quick look at some of those projects:
MONTICELLO – Nat Rassi credits a trip to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for opening his eyes to how big his professional world could be.
Rassi, who has lived in East Central Illinois since he was 10 years old, worked in construction management for PKD Inc. before deciding to go out on his own.
CHAMPAIGN – Linda Cafin came to the backyard of the Catholic Worker House in Champaign on Saturday afternoon to see what was going on.
The Monticello resident who grew up in a house next door was really there on behalf of her 89-year-old mother, who still lives on Cottage Court, next door to where Safe Haven members have erected a tent city for homeless people.
SAVOY – Colors in today's brand new houses form stark contrasts.
A black cabinet hangs on a dark green wall atop baseboards painted white.
DANVILLE - The Danville Housing Authority recently opened its Section 8 housing wait list, which attracted 700 new applicants in five days and reinvigorated a push from city officials to give preference to applicants from the Danville area.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer has asked the local housing authority, verbally and in writing, to consider reducing the number of public housing units and public housing vouchers in Danville and to consider a local preference when prioritizing applicants on the wait lists.
SAVOY – Nicole McGuire Thompson said she wanted to go into home building from an early age.
Three years ago, she got the chance. Her father, Jeff McGuire, was in the home-building business in Gibson City, and she joined him after seven years in pharmaceutical sales.
CHAMPAIGN – Interior work on the restaurant planned for the new M2 building in downtown is expected to begin sometime this month.
Destihl Restaurant and Brew Works, originally expected to open last fall, is still planning to be in M2, according to Matt Potts, the brewer who founded the Bloomington-based restaurant and brewery.
CHAMPAIGN – A foreclosure complaint has been filed against the developer of a condominium community on Champaign's north side, and residents there are wondering when the subdivision will be completed.
Bank of America on May 29 filed a complaint of foreclosure against Raycorp-Champaign LLC, developer of Villas at Ashland Farm.
DANVILLE – Two months ago, the city cut more than 20 jobs and initiated other cost-saving measures to help its bottom line. Now, the city is prepared to take on a $123,000 debt amassed by the Renaissance program, a nonprofit, volunteer-led organization created by the city several years ago to rehabilitate downtown neighborhoods.
While assuming the Renaissance debt concerns some aldermen, the majority of the city council's public services committee recommended last week that the city assume the Renaissance debt, and its assets, which includes about seven properties in the downtown area. The full city council votes on the issue Tuesday night.