It's Your Business: Leasing at Blue Line Station to start in August

It's Your Business: Leasing at Blue Line Station to start in August

Jeff Mellander says he expects to begin leasing apartments at Champaign's Blue Line Station on Aug. 15.

The building at 804 N. Neil St. was formerly the home of Sports Publishing. But Mellander acquired the building in 2009 and has been renovating it for apartments and commercial space.

So far, Mellander hasn't signed any commercial tenants, but he has two spaces on the west side he thinks would work well for restaurants or markets.

On the east end — an area once used as a car barn for the streetcar system — is space he considers well-suited for artist studios, pottery kilns, a wood shop or even an electric-car business.

Plus, there's other space that Mellander hopes to use as an incubator for small businesses.

"It's not quite as high-tech- oriented as M2 or the (University of Illinois) research park, but it's good space for businesses like advertising or graphics where cross-collaboration would be meaningful," he said.

Mellander will have his own apartment in the building, and he's leasing eight other units — six with one bedroom and two with two bedrooms.

All are two-story lofts with "industrial finishes," including exposed steel trusses. Those on the south side have balconies that open onto a "green" deck, and all apartments have access to a rooftop deck.

Apartments range from 800 to 1,275 square feet, with monthly rent starting at $1,100, Mellander said.

Blue Line Station will have long blue horizontal lights on its north and south sides, making it readily identifiable to passersby, he added.

LongHorn breaks ground

Construction has begun in earnest at the site of the new LongHorn Steakhouse.

The restaurant is expected to open in late October at 2101 N. Prospect Ave., C — the former site of Cheddars Restaurant.

LongHorn has more than 350 restaurants in 33 states. It's a division of Darden Restaurants, which also operates Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

The local restaurant is expected to employ up to 80 people and seat more than 240 guests. Its menu is expected to include rib-eyes, salmon filets, baby back ribs and parmesan crusted chicken.

Custom Cuts now LookAfter

New signs for LookAfter Hair Company went up recently at Schnucks plaza in Champaign and at the Campustown store at 401 E. Green St.

Until last October, both stores were known as Custom Cuts. But Peter Hall, a St. Louis native who co-founded the 44-salon chain, decided to change the salons' name.

"Our loyal clients love us, but many others didn't give us a chance because they think we are like any other 'cuts,' 'clips,' or 'snips' simply because of our name," the firm's website says.

"We're not a fast-cut place, and we don't want to be a high-end salon. ... We're a family of caring professionals who really 'look after' our clients," the company explained.

Christine des Garennes can be reached by phone at 351-5388 or 800-252-3346; by email at; or by mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.