Burnham Mansion: ... but there's a buyer trying to save it

Burnham Mansion: ... but there's a buyer trying to save it

CHAMPAIGN — Still another private group has mobilized to try and save the Burnham mansion from demolition, and this one is approaching with an offer to buy the place.

Calling themselves Friends of Burnham Mansion, the group has formed a not-for-profit corporation to pitch an offer of $389,618 to the current owner, the Champaign school district, to buy the house at 603 W. Church St.

The school district plans to tear the house down to make way for a parking lot for Central High School, but Friends group President Carolyn Baxley said there are potential alternatives for the parking lot — possibly among properties on the 500 block of West Church Street.

The owner of Urbana's Cinema Gallery, Baxley said the group consists of herself and about nine others. They mobilized as a non-profit so they would have access to grants available to restore historic homes, she said.

The offer price is exactly the fair market value determined by tax assessors, Baxley said.

"What we're hoping is this is probably going to be the best way to move forward with this project," she said. "They'll either sell it to us or they won't. We feel it's a fair offer, and we've made it, and we're waiting to hear from them."

Champaign school board President Chris Kloeppel said Friday he'd just heard the offer the day before and the board will discuss it in a closed session at its regular meeting Monday night.

He also warned a change of plans at this point would considerably slow down the timetable for the high school's $87.1 million expansion project. Not only would the district have to find another parking lot site, he said, it would have to go back to the drawing board on cost estimates, locations of utility lines and other details.

Any offer to prompt that kind of delay "would have to blow us away," he said.

Baxley said reusing the Burnham house for apartments would be the most logical use of the property if the school district sells it, but the district prefers to restrict any reuse of the building to non-residential — so a likely new use for the property would be offices.

Baxley said she and her husband have undertaken many restoration projects, and she doubts it would take millions of dollars to salvage the house. She believes the Friends of Burnham Mansion group has made a fair offer that should allow the district to acquire another parking site, considering it will save money on demolition and asbestos abatement.

Baxley said she hopes to see controversy about the house put to rest.

"A lot of people care about this house," she said.

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rsp wrote on January 21, 2018 at 10:01 am

She believes the Friends of Burnham Mansion group has made a fair offer that should allow the district to acquire another parking site, considering it will save money on demolition and asbestos abatement.

The problem is the asbestos has to be delt with to rent the place again. It's floating in the air. Once there are breaks and cracks it has to be taken care of. That alone could be a few million. Plus the offer is less than the school district paid. Add in reworking all their plans and I don't see this going anywhere.

RGs wrote on January 21, 2018 at 1:01 pm

As a starting point, factual information about asbestos removal can be found here:

https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/asbestos-national-emissions-standard-hazard...

Removal is not always necessary, or, required. Demolition does not get rid of the asbsetos issue and has its own associated costs. It was an income-producing property before Unit 4 acquired it and its residents were evicted. A price well above market value was paid to acquire it. If it were, truly, a hunk of junk, Unit 4 paid far too much for it, ulmitately, with property tax payers' dollars, IMO.

RGs wrote on January 21, 2018 at 1:01 pm

If this is all it's costing for all of the buildings slated for demolition, there can't be a ton of it in Burnham, alone?

 

www.champaignschools.org/sites/default/files/finance/BidsRFPs/201711/Asb...

"(Awarded to KAM Services for $178,372.00)

www.champaignschools.org/pages/finance/BidsRFPs/awarded?field_bid_rfp_post_date_value%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=&items_per_page=60&=Apply

 

ADVERTISEMENT FOR BID
 
CHAMPAIGN COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 4
 
ASBESTOS ABATEMENT WORK
 
The bid documents, including plans and specifications will be available NOVEMBER 13, 2017 from Dean’s Blueprint, 404 E. University Ave. Champaign, IL 61820, (217-3593261).  Contractors are able to order documents on-line at Dean’s Digital Plan Room.  www.deansblueprint.com.  The drawings and specifications for the subject project will be available at the office of Reliable Environmental Solutions, Inc., 4211 Westgate Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62711, phone 217/787-9800, fax 217/787-9801
 
The project includes the following: 
 
1.    201 North Lynn Street Asbestos Abatement - Provide all material, labor and equipment to remove and dispose of asbestos containing floor tile, floor tile mastic, linoleum, and boiler gaskets located throughout the structure. 2.    203 North Lynn Street Asbestos Abatement - Provide all material, labor and equipment to remove and dispose of asbestos containing floor tile, floor tile mastic, linoleum, and boiler gaskets located throughout the structure. 3.    603 West Church Street Asbestos Abatement - Provide all material, labor and equipment to remove and dispose of asbestos containing floor tile, floor tile mastic, linoleum, pipe insulation, duct insulation, tank insulation and boiler gaskets located throughout the structure. 4.    606 West Park Street Asbestos Abatement - Provide all material, labor and equipment to remove and dispose of asbestos containing floor tile, floor tile mastic, linoleum, and boiler gaskets located throughout the structure.
 

MANDATORY PRE-BID MEETING:  NOVEMBER 16, 2017 at 10:00 am at Central High School, 610 W University Avenue, Library Conference Room (2nd floor).All bidders are required to attend the Pre-Bid Meeting and to participate in a walk-thru of the facilities.
 
BID DATE:  DECEMBER 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm at the Mellon Administration Center, 703 South New Street"

Thewatcher wrote on January 22, 2018 at 10:01 am

No amount of money will cause Unit 4 to sell Burnham back.  It's going.  End of story.

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