Champaign council OKs splitting vacant frat house's lot in two

Champaign council OKs splitting vacant frat house's lot in two

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign City Council voted Tuesday night for a lot modification that paves the way for a new apartment complex and University of Illinois fraternity house.

The council's unanimous vote splits the lot of the vacant Alpha Delta Phi house at 310 E. John St. in two. The fraternity's local alumni association owns the land, and representative Tom Trail said it is planning to sell one of the two new lots to Opus Development.

Opus will use its lot for student apartments after the house — used by the fraternity until it closed the chapter in 2015 — is razed.

Tina-Marie Ansong, an associate planner with the city, said Opus petitioned to start demolition Dec. 1. If Opus doesn't take down the house within six months, Ansong said the city will.

Ben Angelo, Opus' senior director of real-estate development, said specific details on the apartment complex will be released in the next couple weeks.

The fraternity house was built in 1924 and contains asbestos, according to associate city planner Eric VanBuskirk. Trail said high expenses for house upkeep ultimately led to the chapter closing.

Demolishing the house will cost $150,000, which includes professional asbestos removal. Ansong said asbestos becomes airborne once it's disturbed.

For the other open lot, Trail said Alpha Delta Phi intends to construct a new house and revive the chapter. While plans are preliminary, he said construction could start in 2019 at the earliest.

"Our board has formed committees, which are actively working both on plans for recruiting new members and plans for a first-class building that will address the needs of students today and in the future," Trail said in an email.

In other business, the city council also approved a $159,303 grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to finance the second year of the CU Fresh Start initiative to curb gun violence. That's up from the $127,028 it gave to the initiative last year.

Vivian Gray, Fresh Start's project specialist, said $883,123 was requested to pursue mental health services and crime-fighting technology in year two.

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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on November 22, 2017 at 10:11 am
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I encourage the council to take a stroll down the 1000 block of West Main Street in Urbana. That's what happens when you remove all the attractive architecture and replace it with Soviet-style barracks.

Jsmith68 wrote on November 23, 2017 at 5:11 pm

That fits perfectly Robb with the socialist like you in Urbana.