Deal paves way for new Campustown high-rise

Deal paves way for new Campustown high-rise

CHAMPAIGN — The city council has signed off on an agreement on an alley with developers planning a 17-story high-rise on the east side of Sixth Street in Campustown.

The agreement, approved unanimously and without comment Tuesday night, is with CORE — a Chicago-based firm that specializes in college-town developments. It allows the company to modify an alley north of The Clybourne, including digging beneath it, building above it and widening it from 10 to 20 feet to allow for a fire lane and better access for garbage trucks for trash collection for surrounding businesses.

All of the CORE work would be done on its own dime — the city is not being asked to contribute.

The council also voted to acquire ownership of the alley by eminent domain. Senior city planner T.J. Blakeman wrote in a report that the ownership "has long been in question."

CORE's planned 175-foot-tall building would occupy the east side of Sixth from Green street about 260 feet to the south, to Firehaus' southern property line, according to the report. It would have ground-floor commercial space and residential units on upper floors.

Blakeman said CORE doesn't have more exact project plans or a building permit yet.

The developer is "still basically contemplating the project and couldn't move forward without having this step clarified," Blakeman said about Tuesday's council vote.

If CORE moves forward with the development, HomeTown Pantry at 601 E. Green St. will close. Nita Tanchao, the wife of the business's owner, said they are willing to sell the property to CORE whenever it's ready.

In other business, the city council approved several liquor-code tweaks that are slated for implementation this fall:

— The changes include designating a "Downtown Festival District" for public areas near drink-serving establishments. Alcohol carrying and consumption will be legal in those areas. District rules will be followed during special events, like Friday Night Live, and won't last for more than 12 consecutive hours.

Alcohol sold in the district is required to be served in paper or plastic cups only. The district's limits will be indicated with signs.

— Another tweak is permitting alcohol consumption at specialty grocery stores — also known as Sip 'n' Shop. This won't be allowed in Campustown and will be limited to 5 percent of an establishment's total sales.

This change allows "alcohol to be served 'by the glass' at up to three distinct locations in a retail store where specialty, gourmet and artisanal foods are sold, then carried and consumed by customers throughout the premises," according to a report from city staff.

— The cap on the city's Class A/AP liquor licenses will also be expanded under the changes. It will increase from 60 to 75 licenses, and will automatically expand by five licenses every five years — unless the council decides to delay or limit it.