Meeting planned for input on Bristol Park

CHAMPAIGN — Thursday will be the day for residents of the Bristol Park subdivision in north Champaign to give their input on what they want their neighborhood to look like after a substantial redevelopment.

City officials will hold a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, 606 E. Grove St., C. They will ask what qualities residents most value in their neighborhood and what they want to see when redevelopment is finished.

The input residents give at the meeting will help the city write its master plan for the redevelopment. The meeting is open to everyone, but organizers hope to attract people with a particular interest in the Bristol Park neighborhood.

The project includes the demolition of about 90 units in the Bristol Place subdivision, a smaller portion of the neighborhood. The city plans to level Bristol Place and rebuild with a new, mixed-income development.

City officials do not yet know exactly what Bristol Place will look like when it is done. That's what they hope to find out as they write the master plan.

"This is probably one of the only times we'll get to do a substantial neighborhood redevelopment," said neighborhood coordinator John Ruffin. "So we want this to be a showcase neighborhood."

Bristol Place has long been a troubled neighborhood, with property values among the lowest in the city and crime rates among the highest. The majority of homes are rentals, and most have been cited for city code violations.

The situation has become so dire that, years ago, city officials decided their best option was to demolish the entire seven-block neighborhood and rebuild.

The city has been working with residents throughout the process, and Thursday night will be their chance to have a hand in what goes into the master plan.

"This is that framing," Ruffin said. "This will help develop the design specifications for a potential developer."

What — or who — will return to the neighborhood after the city buys all the properties, tears them down and rebuilds is still up in the air.

"The people, they feel enough community there that people want to see replicated to the extent possible," Ruffin said.

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