Five-story luxury development on North Neil breaking ground this week

Five-story luxury development on North Neil breaking ground this week

CHAMPAIGN — Work on the luxury, five-story, mixed-use 520 Neil development on the north side of downtown Champaign is beginning this week, its developer said.

The site at 520 N. Neil St., at the southeast corner of Neil Street and Columbia Avenue, will have first-floor retail, fifth-floor office space for the Champaign-based Serra Ventures venture-capital firm and 35 one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments on the second through fourth floors and part of the fifth floor, said George Gramm, the asset and marketing manager for Morton-based Element Building, the developer and general contractor of the project.

The $11.5 million development, just south of the downtown Champaign post office, also will include a rooftop terrace with an open, patio-style deck that Gramm said could be used for lawn games and extended outdoor living space. It also would offer a view of downtown Champaign nightlife.

The building would have two parking areas: A covered area under the building and an open lot east of the structure.

The target tenant, Gramm said, would be "anyone who wants to enjoy a luxury urban lifestyle, live in downtown Champaign and be close to the (University of Illinois) campus."

No building permit has been issued yet by the city of Champaign, but site grading and staging work is under way.

Most recently, the location was the site of a vacant lot and drive-up ATM.

Serra Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm now located at the University of Illinois Research Park, will be the anchor tenant of the project, using more than 4,000 square feet of the top-floor office space.

"We are deeply appreciative of the relationship we've had with the University of Illinois Research Park. And though we now have locations in Chicago and San Diego, we remain intimately involved in the Champaign-Urbana technology ecosystem and will continue investing in start-ups originating from this world-class university," said Tim Hoerr, CEO of Serra. "This new location will quite literally enable a new level of effectiveness and service to our portfolio companies and investors."

Serra contemplates providing state-of-the-art co-working space to startup companies that want a close coaching relationship with its team of entrepreneurs. Conference rooms and presentation areas will be available along with showers and lockers for those who choose alternative transportation and fitness programs throughout the day.

Serra manages over $70 million in portfolio assets and has ownership stakes in more than 60 companies.

The current venture fund focuses on companies with disruptive product offerings in information technology, devices/instrumentation and agricultural technology.

The 2,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space has not been leased and is available through Champaign-based Guth & Associates.

Apartment pre-leasing will be available this fall, with move-in expected in the fall of 2019.

Sections (3):News, Local, Business