Eminent domain on table

Eminent domain on table

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign City Council will vote Tuesday — and again in the future — about using eminent domain lawsuits and "quick-take" to finish acquiring some properties in the Bristol Place neighborhood before it's redeveloped.

The vote this week addresses two Bristol properties that are owned by the Housing Authority of Champaign County. The authority's outgoing executive director, Ed Bland, requested that the city use eminent domain to acquire those plots, which are at 108 and 110 Roper St., according to a council document.

City attorney Fred Stavins said the last time he remembers Champaign using eminent domain and "quick-take" before Bristol was a decade or more ago, on some Boneyard Creek properties in Campustown. "Quick-take" allows the government to take possession of properties before compensation occurs.

Kerri Wiman, Champaign's neighborhood programs manager, said the housing authority disposition process could have kept the city from using eminent domain in this case, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development didn't respond in time to complete it. She said the city wants to meet grant application deadlines of Friday and June 23 in hopes of alleviating the $23 million redevelopment project.

One grant, from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, could result in $750,000, and the other would bring $15 million in tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

A public hearing on this instance of eminent domain and "quick-take" will be conducted at the beginning of the city council meeting Tuesday night.

Out of the 92 total Bristol properties that need to be acquired by the city before redevelopment, Wiman said there are four others that require using eminent domain and "quick-take." For each of those, she said the property's landlord and the city couldn't agree on a sale price. She said the city typically prices Bristol properties in the $30,000 to $60,000 range.

"Nobody just refused to leave (Bristol)," Wiman said about the property acquisitions. "All the tenants were ready to go and wanted to leave, but landlords didn't agree with the value we offered."

A lawsuit was filed last month over three of those properties, which are all under one landlord, and Wiman said the city was awarded "quick-take." Negotiations for the final sale price will follow.

For the other property, Wiman said the city filed for a case, but she doesn't know if there's a date yet.

For those displaced by the redevelopment, Wiman said they'll be allowed to apply and go through the tenant screening process for the area's new housing before anyone else.

For the first phase of this project — which involves acquisition, relocation and demolition activities — the city is part of a property ownership structure with the Housing Authority, the minority-owned and Chicagoland-based project developer AHDVS LLC and investors.

That phase is slated to conclude at the end of this year.

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