City staff endorses saving 1 of 3 buildings in way of Central work

City staff endorses saving 1 of 3 buildings in way of Central work

CHAMPAIGN — Round 2 of preservationists' bid to save three buildings from being bulldozed for an expanded Central High School could be a split decision.

Ahead of Wednesday's formal vote, city staff is recommending that Champaign's Plan Commission grant the Burnham House (603 W. Church St.) local historic landmark status. But staff did not endorse the same outcome for the two other buildings the local Preservation and Conservation Association seeks to spare — the Bailey House (606 W. Church St.) and Phillippe Mansion/McKinley Family YMCA (500 W. Church St.).

The Champaign school district bought all three properties after voters approved a six-school, $183.4 million referendum last November, the centerpiece of which is an $87.1 million renovation and expansion of Central.

A map of all the properties the district acquired for work on Central is below. The three properties in question are in orange:

PACA needs support from multiple city boards to spare the buildings. It won over the first group, the Champaign Historic Preservation Commission, last week.

No matter what the Plan Commission decides — be it to save one building, none or all three — the matter will go before the city council, which gets the final say, Plan Commission Chair Terry Dudley said. It could be considered by the council on Dec. 5.

In this latest round, planning staff considered criteria other than the buildings' historic significance.

For example, according to documents submitted to the Plan Commission, staff considered whether Unit 4 could get an economic return on the properties if they were given landmark status.

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