A developing situation in northwest Champaign: 'We will see changes'

A developing situation in northwest Champaign: 'We will see changes'

CHAMPAIGN — When the Clearview development was announced for the city's northwest side, The Atkins Group hoped to have a new medical campus and homes built by 2008.

Ten years later, two houses are for sale and six more will be soon at the project bordered by Interstates 74 and 57 to the south, Ford Harris Road to the north, Duncan Road to the west and Mattis Avenue to the east.

"Nothing ever seems fast enough," said Spencer Atkins, a director with the company, about the pace of construction. "We have been focused in other areas. Now we are putting energy into this area and we will see changes."

The two homes for sale — listed at $375,000 and $395,000 — were completed in late 2017.

They'll be the first homes on the new Lovie Lane, a block away from Joshua Drive.

"Joshua and Lovie are of course named for (Illini athletic director) Josh Whitman and the one and only Lovie (Smith) we all know," said Kevin Brumback, superintendent for the residential division at The Atkins Group. "Spencer Atkins was inspired at the time by the newest members of the UI athletic department. It continues the athletic theme of nearby streets: Olympian, Champion, etc."

"Champion Drive is the north/south road cutting through the subdivision," Atkins said. "We thought it would be appropriate to put 'champions'' names on the streets that intersect it."

The eight houses are just the beginning of what could become a major development.

The Atkins Group is on Phase 1A of the residential part of Clearview, the first of six residential phases north of Olympian Drive, according to plans on the subdivision's website.

To the south of Olympian Drive, there's mostly corn, trails and ponds right now, but The Atkins Group hopes to create a commercial park there.

"We are open to looking at all concepts," Atkins said.

When the project was announced, Christie Clinic and Carle Foundation Hospital were going to build there.

The plan with Christie fell through, and Christie instead announced in 2009 that it would be expanding to Curtis and Staley roads in southwest Champaign.

That didn't happen either, but Christie will have a building near the I-57 interchange at the Carle at the Fields development.

Carle is still holding on to its land at Clearview.

"Carle Foundation owns about 100 acres in Clearview but has no specific plans or time frame for developing that land," Carle spokeswoman Jamie Mullin said. "Its location and the available space make it a strategic location for future services."

The eight houses on Lovie Lane are just west of the High School of St. Thomas More.

Principal Jason Schreder said the development could help the school.

"It makes us feel even more a part of the Champaign-Urbana community as the cities grow and expand," he said. "I think it can be very beneficial to us at the school."

Carl Prestin lives to the west of the development on Marianna Drive off of Duncan Road in a property surrounded by trees.

"I never gave it a lot of thought," he said. "You can't even hardly see it."

He was happy to see Olympian Drive extended to Duncan Road.

"I'm just glad to see Olympian Drive open because (U.S.) 150 can be a total pain in the neck," Prestin said.

And he figures "it's going to expand sooner or later. Southwest Champaign is going completely crazy, so you gotta go somewhere."

His neighbors, Richard and Cathy Bedard, moved to Champaign in April and have mostly found the Clearview development curious.

"We were driving around, getting used to things, and we kept seeing these little sidewalks, and I'm like, what are those sidewalks for? They're going nowhere," Cathy Bedard said.

And they're wondering if the tightly spaced homes will sell.

"We come from the suburbs of Chicago, and our property was bigger than that," Richard Bedard said.

Selling homes is Nick Taylor's job, a Realtor for one of the Lovie Lane homes.

"Any subdivision that's brand-new takes a while for people to be aware that it's there," he said.

He said finding the first buyer will be key and may require some incentives and price negotiations.

But he said it's a great fit for someone who wants to live near the highway, and Taylor's optimistic about the subdivision.

"There won't be any question as to whether it's gong to continue on. It will, and it has infrastructure and streets, so it's not a total unknown," Taylor said. "And I think the strength of the developer helps. They have such a good track record."

Name game

Champaign County has various guidelines for new street names, including:

  • No duplicates
  • Not phonetically similar
  • No compass directions
  • No punctuation
  • Easy to spell and pronounce
  • No proper names
  • No longer than 20 characters
  • Themes encouraged
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