Developer tight-lipped about Campustown high-rise after alley vote

Developer tight-lipped about Campustown high-rise after alley vote

CHAMPAIGN — The developers behind the 17-story high-rise coming to Campustown said there are still several steps to go before they can talk about their project.

The Champaign City Council approved two items Wednesday that will allow CORE, a Chicago-based firm that specializes in college-town developments, to build around and widen the alley north of The Clybourne at 706 S. Sixth St.

"That was a big step, but there are several others in the process that all need to happen," said Tom Harrington Jr., CORE's director of acquisitions.

While building plans have yet to be submitted, city council documents indicate the project would be 175 feet tall with about 300,000 square feet. The first floor would be commercial and the upper floors residential.

This would be the sixth Campustown high-rise built since 2007, coming shortly after a development company from Minnesota announced plans in January to build a 14-story tower at the northwest corner of John and Fourth streets.

The CORE project would run from the southeast corner of Sixth and Green Streets for 260 feet, according to city council documents.

That could affect several businesses, including HomeTown Pantry, Jimmy John's, The Clybourne and Firehaus bars, Korean restaurant Woori Jib and Campus Ink Printing.

Scott Cochrane, the owner of Firehaus and The Clybourne, declined to comment Wednesday.

A Jimmy John's spokesman declined to comment on what the development could mean for the Green Street store.

A worker at Woori Jib wasn't sure how it would affect them, and Steven Farag, a co-owner of Campus Ink Printing, declined to comment.

Nita Tanchao, the wife of the owner of HomeTown Pantry, said they expect to close and may move to a new location.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has been using the space above HomeTown Pantry since 2003, calling it The Loft, and it is now planning to move to a smaller space across the street at 616 E. Green St.

"We will be moving in May," said Trever Risinger, area director for InterVarsity.

The Loft is used by the ministry's GreekIV and undergraduate IllinoisIV chapters for their large group meetings, as well as for the staff office.

"For us, it's been a unique space in Campustown. There's not much floor space that can even be rented in one unit without being really expensive office property," Risinger said. "We were able to seat 200 or more students in one space, and there's not a lot of places you can do that."

After the move, the offices across the street will be used for staff and training, while the large groups will move back to campus, where they were held before InterVarsity started using The Loft.

"We'll have to go back to a lecture hall on campus or something like that," Risinger said.

He said the move could help InterVarsity.

"I think this could be a good fit," he said. "Having meetings on campus instead of the other side of the street could be good for what we're trying to do, trying to be engaged in university life."

He also said the current building was in need of repairs.

"The building itself is in some disrepair and would need a lot of work if it wasn't going to be replaced," Risinger said.