A six-story development in downtown Urbana?

A six-story development in downtown Urbana?

URBANA — A Champaign architect and developer has proposed construction of a multimillion-dollar mixed-use project across Vine Street from the federal courthouse and the Lincoln Square Village in downtown Urbana.

Architect Gary Olsen's Metro Centre proposal will get its first review by the Urbana City Council on Monday night. The council will meet at 7 p.m. at the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St., one block south of the proposed development.

No council action is expected Monday regarding the project, Urbana Community Development Director Libby Tyler said.

"But I think what (Olsen) would like to hear is that he can represent an interest in the proposal," Tyler said.

Olsen was unavailable for comment Friday, and Tyler said he was revising and updating details of the project, including its price and the amount of parking to be included.

The development would include underground parking, she said.

Early estimates pegged construction costs at between $14 million and $16 million.

If the project is undertaken in the next few years, it would serve as a unique half-century bookend with the Lincoln Square development on the west side of Vine Street. Construction of Lincoln Square, once a thriving shopping mall, began nearly 50 years ago — in June 1963 — and the mall opened in September 1964.

"This would be a very significant project," Tyler said. "It's a beautiful design and we're quite excited about it."

Urbana officials have hoped for years to redevelop the property, now occupied by a Goodyear shop and parking lots. Earlier this year, the city council completed the purchase of the last available property on the square block, bringing the city's land acquisition costs to $950,000 since 2008.

After sending out requests for proposals earlier this year, Urbana received only one in return: Olsen's.

"It's exactly what we were looking for in the property," she said.

Metro Centre would include a total of 241,083 square feet in two separate buildings, Tyler said. The building facing Vine Street would be six stories tall and would include a first floor of commercial space, three floors of office space and the top two floors of residences.

A second, smaller building on the east side, facing Urbana Avenue, would consist of eight two-story "Chicago-style" townhouses with walled-in courtyards.

Some financial assistance for Metro Centre would be available from the city, Tyler said, because the development is within the city's tax increment finance district.

Also at Monday's meeting, council members will be asked to accept the final design plan for improvements and landscaping along the Boneyard Creek from Griggs Street to North Broadway Avenue near downtown Urbana. Work on the project, which is estimated to cost $8.2 million, could begin as early as the spring of 2012 and be completed in the fall of 2014.

Council members also will be asked to approve a two-year contract with firefighters, to extend the Build Urbana tax rebate program for another year, and to place on the March 20 primary election ballot a referendum question regarding the purchase of aggregated electricity for residences and small commercial customers. A consultant told the council last month that consumers could save 8 percent to 15 percent with the purchase of bundled power. Under the program, all eligible consumers would be included in the program unless they specifically opted out.


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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on December 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm
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It would be nice if Vine Street could present an inviting cityscape. There's just something about blocks & blocks of cluttered automotive service stations... 


I guess it's that the asphalt & rusting cars don't add any contrast the rest of Vine Street, which is asphalt & parked cars.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on December 19, 2011 at 10:12 am

Let's see now--the city has been aggressively trying to buy this strip of land for 2-3 years and they just now release news of a potential development?  Sounds like insider real estate trading with small business left out of the loop.  When will our goverments be required to leave us alone?  If I were a property owner in Urbana I would be in trouble as the government is moving toward a monopolization of everything.