OK of tax credits pushes Bristol Place project forward

OK of tax credits pushes Bristol Place project forward

CHAMPAIGN — After a break, Champaign's Bristol Place neighborhood redevelopment will spring forward with the newly awarded tax credits it was relying on.

Friday's unanimous vote by the Illinois Housing Development Authority was part of the 2017 low-income housing tax credit awards. Bristol's project developer, Jim Roberts of AHDVS LLC, estimates the credits will contribute about $15 million to phase one of redevelopment.

That phase, which Roberts said is about two-thirds of the neighborhood in terms of property usage, costs $23 million.

To foot the rest of that bill, the city and Roberts are looking to bank financing, state affordable housing donation tax credits around $1.2 million, a private grant, $1.5 million from the Champaign County Housing Authority, $600,000 from local neighborhood development funds and the federal HOME Investment Partnership Program and increment reimbursements from the area's tax increment financing district.

There have been some indicators that the IHDA would give Bristol a boost, according to Champaign neighborhood programs manager Kerri Wiman.

"IHDA wants to go away from just funding housing and go toward more neighborhood developments," Wiman said. "From the very beginning, we said this was a neighborhood concept with jobs nearby, neighborhood amenities and access to transportation."

Wiman said the wait for Friday's vote in Chicago had mostly stalled redevelopment planning since June. She said the project — which she's called Champaign's biggest in recent years — was built around these credits, so now it can move on with phase one, which goes from East Roper Street south to East Bradley Avenue, excluding the Boneyard drainage basin.

"I'm very excited," Wiman said. "(The application process) was highly competitive and we are a new project, but we also have been really confident about having a strong neighborhood plan and public participation process of around 60 public meetings."

The next steps, Roberts said, are to create final design specs and construction documents to submit for city building permits. Then, the target date for starting construction is April 2.

If all goes well, Wiman said, construction on phase one should end in the fall or early winter of 2019. Before it can start, she noted, financial package agreements — with partners, investors, etc. — need to be finalized and closed. That closing will allow the city to wean off its project contributions after being largely involved in phase one to secure and prepare the land.

"The city will still be involved with public engagement and permits," Wiman said, noting the planned Oct. 19 meeting of the project's steering committee.

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