Apartment complex to begin construction near Parkland

Apartment complex to begin construction near Parkland

CHAMPAIGN — Parkland College students looking for a place to live near campus will have a new option available to them next fall.

A 111-unit apartment complex is slated to be built close to the college on land that, for now, is property of the Champaign Park District.

A ground-breaking ceremony will be held Tuesday (Oct. 4) at the site of the future Parkland Point Apartments.

Its slogan: "Where the Cobra Lives."

Living at Parkland Point Apartments "will put students within walking distance of Parkland. And there will be a bus stop right in front for those who don't want to walk in the winter," said developer Creg McDonald, who has owned and managed apartment buildings in the University of Illinois' Campustown. McDonald is owner of the McDonald Group Real Estate Co.

Earlier this year the firm signed a 50-year ground lease with the park district for about 6 acres of land off Bradley Avenue, west of Mattis Avenue, near Country Fair Drive. Including the park district land and adjacent parcels, the project area totals close to 8 acres.

The complex will consist of six buildings, plus a clubhouse with a pool, office and commons area. All 111 apartments will be furnished. There will be a mix of two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom units. Interior features include hardwood floors, leather furniture and security systems, according to McDonald. A pedestrian bridge will be built over the nearby Copper Slough connecting the complex with the park.

To lease the land, the developer agreed to pay the park district $250,000, in one lump sum payment, as well as cover real estate taxes. In addition, the developer agreed to put $600,000 into an escrow account to purchase land, in the future, for the park district. According to the lease, when that happens the intention is that the park district will own the replacement tract and the developer will own the property by Dodds Park.

"When the park district identifies a piece of ground, we will use that money to purchase it and exchange it for the ground we got," McDonald said.

The park district's property slated for McDonald's apartment complex is not part of the ball fields. It has been used for materials handling and storing of organic materials like mulch, said Champaign Park District Executive Director Bobbie Herakovich.

"We've slowly been removing things from that area all summer," she said. The materials will be stored near the Champaign's Public Works Department off Kenyon Drive.

McDonald declined to say how much the project will cost. A construction firm, Thompson Thrift, has been hired. The project will be built for occupancy in fall 2012.

"We've been looking at Parkland for a couple years now. ... I'm optimistic about the housing needs of Parkland College students. I think it will be a very successful apartment community," McDonald said.

The Champaign City Council approved the planned development last month. The council approved waivers to allow multifamily residential in the single-family family zoning district and general commercial zoning district, and a waiver of the maximum floor area ratio and wavier from the requirement to dedicate common open space, according to Lorrie Pearson, Champaign's land development manager.

No new public infrastructure will be built to accommodate the development. Improvements to Bradley Avenue and the Bradley Avenue and Country Fair Drive intersection, including sidewalks and the traffic signal, were done in 2007, Pearson said.

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