Nonprofit has eye on police building

Nonprofit has eye on police building

CHAMPAIGN — Officials toward the end of this year will be looking to redevelop a small building the city owns on North First Street, and it could have implications for a community garden next door.

The old police evidence building just north of Church Street between First Street and the railroad tracks has been empty for the past five years. City officials plan to start talking to interested parties about what the future might be for that property.

The structure itself is not in great condition. It's a secure building because police used to store evidence there, meaning all the windows have been sealed off, and the ventilation is poor. Water runs down the railroad embankment and hits the building, so it has mold problems.

Prosperity Gardens has been leasing land from the city immediately adjacent to the evidence building for four years, and Champaign City Council members this week decided to renew that lease for the 2014 growing season in advance of looking for redevelopment proposals.

One of those proposals likely would come from Prosperity Gardens, said director Nicole Bridges, as the nonprofit looks for a permanent home for its operation.

"It is something that we have been interested in pursuing," Bridges said. "Prosperity Gardens, we're a very new organization, but we are literally growing way out."

The nonprofit does educational programming with the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club and READY School. Bridges said they have already been making plans to turn the old evidence building into space for themselves.

"Having a nonprofit, organizational home is the next phase where we need to be as an organization," Bridges said.

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