Housing Authority sponsors development in west Champaign

Housing Authority sponsors development in west Champaign

CHAMPAIGN — The Housing Authority of Champaign County is sponsoring a proposed 160-unit housing development north of Turnberry Ridge subdivision on Champaign's west side.

The development — a companion project to the redevelopment of Joann Dorsey Homes at Bradley and McKinley avenues — is to be built on 12 acres at 702 Cobblefield Road.

That site is immediately west of Interstate 57 and east of several businesses along Colleen Drive, which extends east from Staley Road south of Springfield Avenue.

According to a description from The Benoit Group, the Atlanta-based private developer working with the housing authority, the new development would be known as Providence at Thornberry and would include 160 "townhomes and walk-up apartments."

They would range from one-bedroom, one-bathroom units to four-bedroom, two-bathroom units.

The JoAnn Dorsey Homes redevelopment project — to be called Providence at Sycamore Hills — would include 92 multifamily and townhome rental units.

Together, the two projects are expected to cost $34 million to develop, with construction costs making up $25 million of that.

Construction was originally projected to start in August and be complete in October 2014. But Edward Bland, the housing authority's executive director, said construction likely won't begin until this fall or the spring of 2014.

"We'll be buying the land, and the developer is putting together the financial package," Bland said, adding that the housing authority won't build or manage the units.

Bland noted that even though Providence at Thornberry is on Champaign's far west side, it's inside the city limits.

"As the population of the county continues to grow, affordable housing is needed not only in Champaign and Urbana, but throughout the county," Bland said. "We're trying to identify sites not just in the core area of the city. Our present sites are in the core area."

The housing authority held two open houses for people who live near the two sites, with the most recent one on Thursday, Bland said.

"They did have some concerns, but I think everyone left satisfied with all their concerns answered," he said.

Among those attending was Josh Means, president of the homeowners' association for Cobblefield Point Condominiums, a 118-unit development immediately south of the Providence at Thornberry site. Means said he and a few other Cobblefield Point residents attended the meeting, and the answers they got "eased a lot of concern."

Since entry to the new development would be from Cobblefield Road, Means said, he wondered about increased traffic on Cobblefield and Inverness Drive and its effect on families with young children along those streets.

Means said he was assured by the developer that the tree line north of Cobblefield Point would be preserved and that Providence at Thornberry would have a fence around it.

Means said he hoped the addition of Providence at Thornberry would help bring Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband and Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District service to the Cobblefield Point area.

Bland said proposed rents for Providence would be $645 for one-bedroom units, $775 for two-bedroom units and $890 for three-bedroom units. Most rents would be subsidized, depending on the household's income and family size, he said.

Torian Priestly, executive vice president of The Benoit Group, said the Providence projects are "mixed-income" developments, where some units are reserved for people making no more than 60 percent of the area median income and others for people making no more than 30 percent of the area median. Market rates will be charged for still other units, he added.

Priestly said The Benoit Group expects to hire a third-party property manager to operate the Providence developments.

He said both projects are designed to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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pattsi wrote on April 03, 2013 at 9:04 am

Siting housing west of the freeway rather than as infill puts an additional economic strain on this target population related to the intersection of jobs and transportation.

cretis16 wrote on April 04, 2013 at 8:04 am

You should take a lesson from SE Urbana. When the area on North Broadway was torn down, Section 8 filled the streets in SE Urbana. Now, a once pristine neighborhood of homes are crowded out by drug deals, shootings, and robbery.

sparky123 wrote on April 04, 2013 at 10:04 am

Right on the mark with southeast Urbana comments. It's terrible what has happened to this once nice neighborhood.

rsp wrote on April 03, 2013 at 9:04 am

There should be information about "median" income included in this story. Most people really don't know what that means, how much it is, how many people are eligible for assistance. I think they might be surprised. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 03, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Is the "area median income" champaign county? Or champaign urbana?

rsp wrote on April 04, 2013 at 7:04 pm

They said the housing was for people countywide, so it would help to include median income figures for the different groups. I've seen people be very surprised that they were eligible for assistance under the guidelines when they didn't think they needed help. They get confused as to why they scale up so high. 

MSJ66 wrote on April 03, 2013 at 6:04 pm

What it means is more section 8 people from the Mattis to Neal down Bradley crowd is going to keep getting thrust upon on better areas of town and then continue with the trend of putting the problems of crime, drugs, gunfire and shootings out in what used to be good neighborhoods. This wasnt the case prior to tearing down the housing at 4th and Bradley. Then the housing at McKinley and Bradley and now Bristol Place is next all in the name of "redevelopment". With the city's blessing an outside, out of state developer will come in and make all the money and then not have to deal with the lowering of property values and the increase in crime and drugs in areas where they werent that prevelant before that comes with this element of the population. They want to erect these mixed housing multi family plans and locate them near good decent single family housing subdivisions and then you get the increase in crime in those areas. I am speaking from experience as in the last 5 years since they have razed some of these housing complexes and moved these people out into other areas i have seen an increase in crime and the continual running down of what used to be well kept homes/apartments/condos /etc and places to live. Before everyone starts screaming I realize not everyone is a drug user or problem individual but ask yourself why did and are they razing all these housing areas?  Oh yea thats right because there was a lot of drug use, drug sales, gun fire and shootings in those areas. Instead of fixing the problem they just spread the problems to a broader other parts of the city.

Local Yocal wrote on April 03, 2013 at 7:04 pm
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Since MSJ66's experiences are real, what is the fix to the problems of drug use and drug sales; and gun fire and shootings?

rsp wrote on April 04, 2013 at 6:04 pm

They razed those housing complexes because they had reached the end of their usefulness. They were not well built and it would have been impossible to rehab them up to code. Those buildings weren't in good shape for years. They are moving to mixed-use housing because it encourages a better standard of living for everyone. 

JET wrote on April 05, 2013 at 10:04 am

Where is the Housing Authority getting the money from? Our tax dollars

Why are they using a contractor from out of town and state for that matter?

The rent that will be charged is considered affordable? Depending on the Amenities and size of the units, the rents seem high. Do we need luxury subsidized housing?

Unfortunately most people that are given subsidized rent  do not have pride in ownership and

do not take care of their apts.

It does not matter whether the units "were built well" or not they will be destroyed by the lack of uncaring  tenants in just a few years.

I feel sorry for the Turnberry Neiborhood, your property values are going to plummet.

I have been involved in the housing rental business for over 30 years and have seen

just about everthing and unfotunately tenants are getting worse about respecting

someone else's property.

Sorry, I am not being PC just telling the truth


SaintClarence27 wrote on April 05, 2013 at 10:04 am

The lack of respect tenants show to landlords' property is primarily due to landlords' actions. Why take care if you're going to lose your deposit to routine maintenance anyway? I've never gotten a dime of deposit back, and I've never wrecked an apartment. Just about every landlord I've dealt with here has been a thief in that regard.

I'm sure not every landlord is like this, but most are. And since tenants know that to be the case, what is the point of being careful?

JET wrote on April 05, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Landlords have to provide proof such as receipts for any repairs or damages caused by a prevoius tenant. Landlords cannot charge for routine maintenace only for damages incurred by the tenant after they move out.

If you have issues with not getting your deposit back and you think you should have . I would suggest that youy contact the Tenants Union. They are there to protect and help any tenant that has issues with their landlord.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 05, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I understand what is *supposed* to happen, but by and large, it doesn't. Unless you have documented everything VERY well, you will likely not win back more than the filing fee in small claims court. Essentially, they just provide a claim that they had to do X or Y, with a price attached.

JET wrote on April 05, 2013 at 3:04 pm

We  have spent thosands of dollars on repairs that were caused by a tenant.

5 to 10 times what their damage deposit. So I quess it goes both ways.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 05, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I'm sure it does - and I absolutely believe you. I'm just saying that landlords continually and habitually stealing deposits only contributes to the atmosphere of uncaring surrounding the premises. A lot of people probably feel that if they have to pay for it regardless, then why be careful?

P.S. I should also say that this doesn't excuse destructive tenants' behavior.

cretis16 wrote on April 06, 2013 at 4:04 pm

JET: Exactly correct. As a former landlord, I have owned rental property primarily in the Garden Hills area amongst others. I threw in the towel some years ago. Just impossible to deal with these Section 8 people tearing apart everything and then leaving in the middle of the night, behind in rent and totally wrecking the apartment. One of my properties was on Joanne Lane in Champaign....it took forever to evict for non payment, and when they finally left, garbage was all over the house, even in the living room and the bathroom sink was broken completely off the wall. I received no re payment of any kind. I would not advise anyone to get into the rental property experience in CU.

Speakerman11 wrote on April 07, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I moved out of Turnberry a few years ago as my family size grew.  Praise Jesus I did.  This is not a good situation, but it sounds as if it is moving FORWARD!  (Sound familiar?!)  I took a hit on my home value when I sold it due to the timing; I can only imagine the hit homeowers in the area will be facing.

I promise a few things:  1) Super Pantry will be increasing thier single serve alcohol and tobacco sales post-development of Providence at Thornberry.  2) Emergency response time to 911 calls will have to be deeply considered by homeowners in the area who currently do not own a firearm.  3) Champaign Police Department will be forced to quadruple thier route presence in that sector of town.  4) There will be a substantial increase of homes for sale (both by owner and by agent) in that area in the next 60 days.

How interesting would it be to sit out on the big berm that runs along the interstate just to the south of this development and watch the 'emergency stops' on the shoulder of the southboud lane as the fine citizens of South Chicago have extremely easy access to narcotic customers in Champaign.  Mark my word an ISP police car will be parked fairly regulalry at that center median on I 57 just south of Kirby Ave.

In conclusion, my message to the neighbors of 'Providence at Thornberry' is GET OUT, GET OUT, AND GET OUT!!!!

Those living in subsidized housing care very little or nothing for thier environment because they have no skin in the game.  They dont have to care.  Its those around them who suffer.  This is not a good thing for SW Champaign. 

Bulldogmojo wrote on April 08, 2013 at 9:04 am

Yes, poverty reaps a whirlwind of dispair and social problems. Let's improve our educational system so that it will get them out of their cycle of poverty. 

'We must strive to build a future where poverty can only be seen in a poverty museum." ~ Muhammad Yunus

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 08, 2013 at 11:04 am

Some serious white flight going on here.

Sid Saltfork wrote on April 09, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I can see two sides of the arguement.  I lived in a great neighborhood in south Urbana for close to thirty years.  My kids attended Yankee Ridge grade school there.  People walked in the evenings with no fear. 

When Urbana created Section 8 housing behind the Jewel store, most neighbors felt that it was a progressive idea.  Later; cars were broken into, robberies increased, and homes were invaded.  People no longer walked in the evenings.  Police cars were sighted more frequently.  Stores closed on Philo Road.  Neighbors started moving.

My friends who still live in the neighborhood have security cameras now.  They want to move out; but they are concerned about recouping their investment on their house.

Ideally; people should live in a diverse city with middle class, and poor; but the reality is not the ideal.

SaintClarence27 wrote on April 09, 2013 at 10:04 pm

But this is mixed income, not section eight.