It's Your Business: More details on campus tower plans

It's Your Business: More details on campus tower plans

Architects of a proposed 16-story apartment building in Champaign's Campustown shed more light last week on how the building's automated parking system would work.

Speaking to the Champaign Plan Commission, Megan Zack of Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture said cars will enter the building from Fourth Street, be scanned to determine their size, then be transported by elevator to parking decks on the building's second through fourth floors.

Cars will then travel by trolley down a central pathway and be moved into position. Cars will be parked three deep on each side of the pathway, she said.

"It's very tightly engineered. There will be only 4 to 6 inches between cars," Zack said.

"Machines park the cars. A human does not," added Lorrie Pearson, land development manager for the Champaign Planning Department.

The apartment project — known as HERE @ University of Illinois — would be built on the site of the IHOP restaurant and Campus Liquor at the northwest corner of Fourth and Green streets.

James W. Heffernan and James D. Letchinger are the managers of HERE Champaign, the Chicago-based company developing the project.

Their architect, Jim Plunkard, said the developers have $500 million of residential real estate projects in Chicago and the Midwest.

The Champaign project would be their "first big entry in the student housing market" and one that brings "a different perspective than in the past," he said.

As previously reported, the building would have 143 apartments on the sixth through 16th floors. Each apartment would have two levels, so the city is effectively considering the project as a 27-story building, counting the mezzanine levels as separate floors.

The first floor would have retail space available and perhaps a cafe on the corner. The fifth floor would have an indoor fitness center and a rooftop patio flanked on two sides by the apartment towers.

Not everyone's happy with the project, though — particularly the employees and patrons of IHOP, which has been at that location since 1974.

Mada Weyer, who has worked there off and on for 25 years, said the developers are pulling the restaurant "out from under us."

At the outset of the meeting, Plunkard said he'd be "sad to see the IHOP go."

When it was Weyer's turn to talk, she said, "Next month when you'll be sad, I won't be able to make my house payment."

She said the closing of IHOP would affect the campus and community.

"What happens at 2 in the morning when the bars close? We're the only place kids can come on campus to get something to eat and get coffee. They'll be getting in cars drunk and driving across town," she said.

Robert Michael Doyle, a regular patron of IHOP who lives two blocks away, said the tower — along with other high-rises built or proposed nearby — will "turn Green Street into an urban corridor" and create a wind tunnel there.

"I don't want to look at buildings looming over me," he said.

Two plan commission members — Brian DeMuynck and Leonard Heumann — said they didn't expect buildings of that scale when city planners were preparing for the redevelopment of Campustown.

"We say we want more of an urban feel along the street, but we have to be careful that quality of life will be there," Heumann said.

Commission Chair Paul Cole said the makeup of the campus community is changing, with more international students in town.

Many are "financially well-endowed graduate students who come from backgrounds where they expect certain amenities," he said.

Development projects that recognize those needs "are going to establish the foundation of the University of Illinois more solidly in our community," he said.

Further consideration of the HERE @ University of Illinois project is scheduled May 21 at a Champaign City Council meeting.

Speaking of towers ...

It's official: Gameday Spirit signed a lease last week for the first-floor space of the 14-story apartment building proposed for the southwest corner of Sixth and Green streets in Campustown.

The sports apparel store will occupy about 4,600 square feet when the project is complete. Occupancy is scheduled for Aug. 15, 2014, according to Bankier Apartments, which is developing the building.

Gameday Spirit, which currently occupies that corner, previously announced it will be moving to a temporary location at 616 E. Green St., C, as of June 1.

Coming to Danville

Anytime Fitness recently announced it's taking space in the Danville Crossing Shopping Center next to Dollar Tree.

The 4,500-square-foot co-ed fitness club is expected to open within 90 days, according to a release from owner Chris Dukes.

Anytime Fitness allows members to work out any time of the day or night. They use a security-access key to enter the club, even when it's not staffed.

Besides having strength training and cardiovascular equipment, Anytime Fitness has tanning and membership reciprocity among its more than 2,000 clubs in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia.

More information about Anytime Fitness can be found at To find out more about the Danville club, contact Chris Dukes at 407-319-1792.

New salon concept on way

Look for a new concept in hair salons to arrive in southwest Champaign in June.

Bryan Batstone and his wife, Lisa, plan to open The Salon House at 2918 Crossing Court, Suite D, near the corner of Duncan and Windsor roads, according to Richard Strom, who has been working with them.

The nearly 5,000-square-foot space would offer individual studios to beauty professionals — stylists, cosmetologists, estheticians — who can make the space their own and run their own businesses there, Strom said.

They can decorate their space as they like and be open the hours they want, he said.

"We started marketing to stylists within the last two to three weeks," Strom said last week. "We'll have a good complement of beauticians, stylists and nail techs signed up."

Strom said he and Bryan Batstone are from the United Kingdom, and Lisa Batstone grew up south of Chicago. Lisa has been a salon owner and hair and beauty educator, and Bryan has worked in the hair and beauty field.

Strom said the trio hopes to open a second location of The Salon House in Bloomington down the road and three more across Illinois after that.

Grand opening in Savoy

Timeless Treasures in Savoy is planning a grand opening May 17 with door prizes and refreshments, according to owner Dan Eastin of Tolono.

The store, which carries antiques, uniques and collectibles, is at 101 N. Dunlap Ave. For folks unacquainted with Savoy addresses, that's the northwest corner of U.S. 45 and Church Street.

The shop has 15 vendors who lease booth space.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The shop is closed Sundays and Mondays.

For more information, contact Eastin at 721-4346.

Crossroads expands

Crossroads Corner Consignment has expanded inside and out.

The shop, located in the Whiteline building at 723 S. Neil St., C, has leased 1,000 square feet of outdoor space on the southwest side of the building.

That space is used Friday through Sunday, weather permitting, with vendor and store items brought there just for those days, according to co-owner William Fleming.

The shop is also taking an additional 600 square feet just north of its existing shop, with the expectation of occupying that in early June.

That will give Crossroads a total of 3,500 square feet indoors, Fleming said.

New name, new location

Memories By Design has opened at 10 W. Third St., Danville, and has expanded its line of products and services, according to News-Gazette reporter Tracy Moss.

The business, owned by Cindy and Phil Stumph, was formerly known as StumphCo and was originally a laser engraving firm located in their basement.

Memories By Design still offers laser engraving, but it also uses heat transfer imprinting to put photos on various items, including wallets, cellphones, bookbinders, mugs, mouse pads and cozies.

"Our motto is, we are a little shop of amazing things," Cindy Stumph said.

Memories by Design recently purchased the awards and engraving department of Danville Paper and Supply. A longtime employee in that department, Sandy Bailey, now works with the Stumphs.

Memories by Design now offers custom laser, rotary and drag engraving in-house, and its product line includes plaques, awards, trophies, rubber stamps, banners, signs, flags and gifts.

Store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Drive for women's shelters

Two Men and a Truck is conducting a "Movers for Moms" campaign to collect items, such as soap and shampoo, for women in shelters due to homelessness or domestic violence.

The campaign works with neighborhood schools and organizations — such as Carrie Busey Elementary, Devonshire KinderCare and Robeson Elementary locally — to collect the items.

Companywide, the program is expected to support more than 100 women's shelters, including the Center for Women in Transition in Champaign.

Other schools and organizations interested in supporting the Movers for Moms program can contact the Central Illinois franchise, owned by Dan and Rene Shunk, at 398-2636.

Clinic adds services

Dr. Peter O'Brien of O'Brien Chiropractic, Champaign, has added two new services.

One is inversion therapy, which uses one's body weight to provide traction to the back, relieving pressure on spinal discs and relaxing paraspinal muscles.

O'Brien has also added a heated water massage therapy table to provide stress relief and muscle relaxation.

Contact Don Dodson at 351-5227 or 800-252-3346; by email at; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

Sections (2):News, Business
Topics (2):Housing, Restaurants

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pattsi wrote on May 05, 2013 at 10:05 am

Previously, I have written about the current penchant toward turning campus town Green Street area into a "Wall Street" type canyon of uninspiring buildings with zero set back and pushing parking disitnctively out of sight making it harder and harder for anyone not young and totally mobile to perambulate throughout the area. The Perpsective column written by Paul Farmer, FAICP, and CEO of the American Planning Association appearing in the April 2013 issue of Planning crystalized my thoughts. Unfortunately only APA members can access the publication electronically so I am including a short quote from the column. The focus of the comments is what is happening in Chicago, but there are parallels to our own community.

"We are the city of Adler, Sullivan, Burnham, Wright, Mies, Jahn, and Netsch — a city of great architecture, the place where the skyscraper was born. Unfortunately, amid some truly great architecture of the last 25 years by architects such as Valerio and Gang, we have built far too much that's truly banal. Just walk around River North, the Gold Coast, and Streeterville and see how recent buildings meet the street and reach the sky. You might ask, "Where did we lose our way?" "

Chair Paul Cole's quote not withstanding ought we plan for the wealthy foreign students or ought we plan for what the community will look like for the next 20-25 years. I would hope the latter so we do not have Chicago's buyers remorse of having to live with a canyon of banality for a quarter of a century. This time frame work along with zero set back negates any elasticity to accommodate changing views about urban design that will naturally occur and actual line-of-sight issues, such as those at the corner of Church and State in downtown Champaign and engress/egress issues that are multiplying like rabbits along campus town Green Street.

rsp wrote on May 05, 2013 at 11:05 am

His comment about foreign students doesn't even make sense. They were coming before so why change into something we don't want to be? Because someone who would be here for a few years might expect something? 

Nice Davis wrote on May 05, 2013 at 4:05 pm

"making it harder and harder for anyone not young and totally mobile to perambulate troughout the area"

Don't young mobile people have an easier time walking through any type of area? How does the continued evolution of Green Street into a transit-rich walkable corridor make it unfriendly to older people?

"actual line-of-sight issues, such as those at the corner of Church and State in downtown Champaign"

What on earth are you talking about?

"engress/egress issues that are multiplying like rabbits along campus town Green Street"

The Campus Commercial Overlay zoning district actually prevents pretty much any new access points being opened onto Green Street.

I realize the fact that our local government allows developers to meet existing demand for bigger buildings gives some people a sad, but it would be nice if there were at least some coherent arguments in favor of greater government control over development.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 05, 2013 at 8:05 pm
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Yes, why would a university campus be inclined towards meeting the needs and preferences of younger people as opposed to older people?  Puzzling.

That Chicago quote would be more relevant if the buildings these new campus high rises are replacing actually had character and were pleasant to look at, like the ones in those old Chicago neighborhoods.  Instead, they have almost all been dumpy concrete or wood strip malls and delipidated wooden two-story apartment buildings.

Perhaps yourself and others consider Campus Liquor, IHOP, the Gameday Spirit building, the parking lot next to Legends, etc. to be marvels of architecture and city planning, but most college students and many of us long time residents do not and prefer the more modern and urban look on campus.

mrizzo8686 wrote on May 05, 2013 at 12:05 pm

The city leaders of Champaign need to cut it out with their penchant of wanting buildings that create a skyline for the city. Part of the reason I went to University of Illinois was because of the unique charm of Champaign-Urbana. Over time I am seeing this charm being worn away. Green Street went from a commercial area consisting of a local/chain mix to now mainly chain. Planning decisions for Green Street should be driven by what is best for ALL students and ALL residents. Not just foreign students. The city leaders have to recognize that whatever goes their they will have to live with likely for the next 25 to 50 years. I think the tower where the old Burger King was is overkill already. It feels like Champaign wants to become more like Evanston or something. The city leaders should want Champaign to the be the best city it can be based on its own character. Not carbon copying development ideology from the Chicago area. Also, I agree with the waitress that removing the IHOP could cause some DUI issues. When I lived in campustown many times after a party friends would talk about driving to Steak n Shake but would settle on IHOP cause you could walk to it. City leaders need to relocate IHOP or some other 24 hour establishment into campustown asap. Also, if they have to have their towers why doesn't the city push for redevelopment of the abandoned bank buildings on the south side of Green Street at Second or move the concrete plant at the railroad tracks to an industrial area and develop there. The concrete plant does not blend in with the Green Street corridor anyway. 

Nice Davis wrote on May 05, 2013 at 4:05 pm

So the city should not even allow tall buildings but it should take direct action to start a 24 hour restaurant? This is certainly a unique take on the role of local government. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 05, 2013 at 8:05 pm
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Besides campus and downtown Champaign, you can go almost anywhere else in C-U and not be disturbed by buildings more than three floors tall.

Was the old Burger King "charming?"  What about Campus Liquor and IHOP across the street?  Sure, the old Garcia's had charm, but it had been sitting vacant for years.  I'm just not sure what "charm" people are talking about on campus that is somehow being taken away.  I think it's less charm that a lot of people are missing, and more nostalgia for how things were in younger, more carefree days.

"Planning decisions for Green Street should be driven by what is best for ALL students and ALL residents."

Why?  It's mostly students and young people who live and patronize the businesses there.  How are the new high rises, which there are clearly a demand for among students, not what's best for them?

As for IHOP, I agree that it's a shame those people will lose their jobs.  However, there are no shortage of other dining options on campus late at night.  There is nothing preventing an IHOP, or preferably a new Merry Ann's, from opening in the new building or at a different location on Green Street.

I would agree that the concrete plant is pretty out of place, but replacing it with high rises would just irritate permanent residents who hate high rises even more, since it would be even closer to the sightlines of areas (i.e. Neil Street) that those of us in town use every day.  There's not much foot traffic from students in that area either.  The bank buildings would be a logical area, though.

mrseeu2 wrote on May 05, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Change is apart of life and the people of Champaign must accept change if this city is to grow and prosper.  The type of developement that HERE is proposing is good for the city. This project must be approved.  The people who want this city to stay the same with 2-5 story buildings want to live in a bedroom community and Champaign is not that type of city.  We should be proud that HERE has selected Champaign for this type of structure and hope that other developers do the same.  We still have Urbana, Savoy and other parts of Champaign if you want to live in low rise, small town america but let Campustown be the Urban highrise area it's destined to be.  The city is not going to listen to these small minded people when it comes to new development and rightfully so.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on May 05, 2013 at 8:05 pm
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Well said.  Those folks want Champaign to look like Danville or Decatur, you and I would prefer it look more like Peoria or Chicago.  Different strokes, I guess.

Illini Libertarian wrote on May 05, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I find it amusing that people think that a piece of private property at the northwest corner of Fourth & Green is somehow part of the public domain. HERE purchased the property and is proposing a building that fits within the city's zoning and building codes.  That section of campustown is zoned CB - Central Business which encourages this type of development.  Property values are so high in this area that a developer can't afford the land without maximizing the site by building vertical.  The result will be high assessed values on a relatively small parcel - read: higher real estate tax revenue.

These complainers are the same ones who object to urban sprawl on the edge of town.  They say that a strong, walkable, mixed-use, urban core is best for this community. Now they are getting it but they still find reasons to complain.  I bet these people live in ugly homes that I would hate.  How would they feel if I objected to their rain barrels, compost piles, and gardens?

Those complaining about the high rises probably don't even live in Champaign.  To those folks: stay in Urbana and complain about how Carle (who gives millions in free healthcare and donates millions to charities) is not paying their "fair share" of property taxes to the city.  Perhaps if Urbana was more business friendly and allowed large skyscrapers, they would not need to attack their largest employer.  


sweet caroline wrote on May 05, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I don't know why they couldn't have rented a portion of the 1st floor to IHOP.  The owner of IHOP is right.  It's the perfect place for kids (and grown-ups) to go after a night of partying.  It's always busy, no matter what time of day or night. 

Nice Davis wrote on May 05, 2013 at 6:05 pm

The owner of IHOP was not at the meeting and is not quoted in the article. I think you're referring to the quote from an IHOP employee. I'm sure IHOP is no less welcome to lease space on the ground floor of this building than any other business would be.