Champaign seeks help finding site for high school

Champaign seeks help finding site for high school

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign school district is looking for a centrally located piece of land for the high school it wants to build, and it's looking for an expert to help.

The school district issued this week a request for qualifications for someone to help it identify a central Champaign site for a new Central High School.

The school district is looking for a minimum of 30 acres inside the area bounded on the north by Interstate 74, on the south by Springfield Avenue, on the east by First Street and by the west by Interstate 57.

The school district needs the date of possession for the site to be negotiable, depending on whether taxpayers approve a tax increase for building a new Central High School, and is interested in buying either an undeveloped site or one that includes buildings that could be demolished.

Someone interested in helping the school district find that site should submit his or her professional history, describe the services he or she would offer, include an overview of experience and "familiarity working with public entities or other developments within the district," include a resume for anyone who would be involved, disclose any possible conflicts of interest with the school district and a description of how the developer would work with the school board, school district staff and members of the community. The request for qualifications also asks interested parties to submit three references for similar projects.

The deadline for submissions is Aug. 5, the request for qualifications states, and the board could approve someone to help it at its Sept. 9 meeting.

The school board discussed the request for qualifications at its July 8 meeting, and board member Kristine Chalifoux expressed concern about the possibility of paying a developer twice, once for finding a site and again when the land is purchased.

She said Thursday, though, that she's OK with the request the school district issued.

"It is different than I was expecting, but could be done several different ways," she said. "We can only do one, and this is fine."

Superintendent Judy Wiegand reminded board members at the July 8 meeting that they can decide not to hire someone to help the district find the site, as the request for qualifications isn't binding.

When the time comes for the board to make a decision, administrators would give the board information about how the developer would be compensated, Champaign schools spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart said.

This is the same procedure it uses when hiring for other professional services, like architects, she said.

In the past, the school district has mentioned it's looking for a 40-acre site for a new Central, and Stuart said the request for qualifications mentions a 30-acre site just to make sure it catches all possibilities.

"A smaller plot of land might have some challenges or quirks in terms of what's possible, but they wanted to see all (sites) that were possible," Stuart said.

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787 wrote on July 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

That's an easy one.  The site where the old Humko plant used to be, on Mattis Avenue.

Problem solved.

swegyptian wrote on July 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm

That's what I was thinking. It's in a great location, already has large roads for access, and wouldn't be really far away from any Champaign neighborhood.  

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on July 20, 2013 at 10:07 am
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Why not somewhere in Urbana? We have lots of unoccupied lots, zoned commercial. And because Urbana does not (politically speaking) like businesses/revenues, it would be great to get some kind of occupant.

Or maybe go with that plan where the 9th & 10th graders stay at the old site.


Lostinspace wrote on July 20, 2013 at 11:07 am

Thirty acres? How many acres does the current school cover?

pattsi wrote on July 20, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I am confused as to the reason for a need for one more consltant, which costs the taxpayer. Unit 4 has a consulting contract with the city planning department. That entity alone could identify a package of land meeti ng the criteria. This could also be identified by the RPC staff, the county assessor, the city of Champaign assesso, the Champaign assessor--so why are not these knowledgeable individuals being used for a triangulazation of thei information. Then from the biased perspective any real estate agent in the community could do the job.

Mastadon-27 wrote on July 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm

The first problem with the Scumko site is the cost to finish cleanup of the carcinogens left from the previous occupant. The district can't pay for that unless you vote to raise your property taxes in November 2014. 

Who, of the News Gazette's readership will voluntarily sell their 30+ acres of land for the building, parking and playing fields?  Oh, you don't own 30+ contiguous acres!  So, are you volunteering your neighbor's property, along with your's? 

The district's most affordable choice is farmland north of I-74.  Build it and they will have to come.

mikeyy wrote on July 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Put it on west bradley, north side of street  between  Dodd's and Heritage Park's