Council to consider next phase of Green Street work

Council to consider next phase of Green Street work

CHAMPAIGN — More changes could come to the Green Street corridor in the next three years — this time between Fourth and First streets.

City officials plan to soon move on to the next phase of streetscape improvements along that area's main corridor, a project that has substantially changed the look of Campustown between Fourth and Wright streets but was put on hold during the recession.

And if the next phase of the $7 million project is financed the way the initial phases were, it could mean some special tax assessments for adjacent property owners. City council members will begin early discussion of the plans when they meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

In the early 2000s, the city undertook a major overhaul of a three-block section of Green Street and a two-block section of Sixth Street. It ended with reconstructed streets and sidewalks, and new benches, lighting, landscaping, fencing and trees.

The next phase — on Green Street between Fourth and First — was supposed to have been completed in 2012, but the project was delayed for about five years until city officials could come up with funding for the project. City planner T.J. Blakeman said the improvements to the next section of Green Street west of Fourth will be similar to the ones that already exist east of Fourth Street, with some minor changes.

"We'll take a look at what worked in that first phase and what maybe didn't work and needs to be tweaked," Blakeman said.

While the first phase focused on the core of Campustown, the next phase "will really look at how to extend that core," Blakeman said. And with larger properties, the next section could have more redevelopment potential.

Tuesday night's city council meeting will be only an early discussion of the streetscape improvements — administrators will ask city council members to take a look at the project schedule and move closer to selecting a designer to plan the street improvements. If they proceed according to the plan that will be presented, construction could be finished by fall 2016.

The city has budgeted for the project on the assumption that adjacent property owners would share in its cost. In the past, 10 percent of the project has been paid by property owners via special property tax assessments in a "special service area."

Special service areas are geographical areas in which the city may levy extra property taxes to pay for improvements in those boundaries. The city used a special service area in the first phases of the Green Street streetscape improvements to raise $1 million for the project.

City officials plan to communicate their plans to those property owners before moving forward.

"That'll be one of the questions that we'll be going back to (the city council) with," Blakeman said. "That won't be decided Tuesday night. It'll need to be discussed."

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pattsi wrote on September 09, 2013 at 11:09 am

During spirited conversations about what is happening along the camus town Green street section, many an urban designer has bemoaned the lack of great and distinctive design creating a unified space and many areas of conectivity. Bottomline the area is considered boring and a missed opportunity. As always my big question has to do with the fact that there is a College of Fine and Applied Arts just south of this area. Within this college are the School of Artchitecture and departments of landscape architecture and urbaning plus art and design, respecitvely, But one would never know this visually as one walks through campus town.

Lostinspace wrote on September 09, 2013 at 11:09 am

You said it; goes for the cities as a whole.  Sad.