Burnham Mansion could get a couple neighbors at new site

Burnham Mansion could get a couple neighbors at new site

CHAMPAIGN — Preservationist Chris Enck may be moving more than the Burnham Mansion to a vacant lot at 501 W. Church St., C.

Enck said Wednesday he's also looking into the possibility of acquiring two more structures from the Champaign school district — the Capt. Edward Bailey house at 606 W. Church St. and the carriage house at that address — and moving them to the same triple lot where the Burnham Mansion is going.

Enck said he believes the relocation site is large enough to accommodate the 10,000-square-foot Burnham Mansion as well as the other two structures, but it isn't a done deal yet.

He plans to respond to a request for proposals issued by the school district, he said. The district is seeking proposals to acquire and remove buildings at 619 W. Church St., the former McKinley YMCA main building and carriage house at 500 W. Church St., and the Bailey house and coach house at 606 W. Church St.

"It seems like the Bailey house and its coach house could both fit, and that's what we're investigating, so we'll submit our RFPs to the district, so we'll have that option going forward," Enck said.

Getting the Burnham Mansion moved remains his main focus right now, Enck said. He faces a fast-approaching deadline of July 15 to get the mansion moved out of the path of an expansion project for Central High School.

"I think we're definitely moving forward," he said. "The logistics are coming together, and we definitely appreciate the school district's help and the school board for allowing this to keep going."

There's more breathing space in the schedule for relocating the other structures.

Proposals must be submitted to school district Chief Financial and Legal Officer Thomas Lockman by Aug. 6, and the structures would have to be removed from their current sites within 45 days of an executed agreement or Nov. 15, whichever is sooner, according to the district's RFP document.

It also states the offerer would be solely responsible for all costs of removal from the site, including any involved with the relocation.

Enck said he's working with engineers on a site plan for the 501 W. Church St. lot and plans to submit it to the city soon.

His plans are for the Burnham Mansion to front on Elm Street, facing West Side Park. If he also ends up acquiring the Bailey house and coach house, he said, the Bailey would likely front on Church Street, and the coach house would probably back up to an alley running through that block.

Enck said he couldn't say yet how the other two buildings would affect the number of apartments he'd be developing at 501 W. Church. The Burnham is already carved into 12 units, he said, but the total number of units for all three buildings is undetermined.

"We want to keep all the historic features, keep all the historic character intact (and) figure out how to make the space work," he said.

The details of financing the redevelopment of three buildings instead of one also remains to be determined, Enck said. He's already had house movers take a look at the Bailey house and coach house when they looked at the Burnham Mansion move, he said.

With the focus currently on getting the mansion moved, the others would follow separately and require additional permits from the city, Enck said.

But in terms of the restoration project, "we're looking at it from a comprehensive perspective," he said. "Essentially, one large project would be more efficient."

Eric Van Buskirk, an associate planner with the city, said the 501 W. Church St. property is zoned to accommodate apartments, and that could potentially include multiple buildings. Enck will need to meet setback and on-site parking requirements.

At least one neighbor is excited about the possibility of a grouping of these buildings.

"I'd love it," said Chuck Vaughn, a self-avowed history buff and the owner of Heath & Vaughn funeral home next door to the relocation site.

There are already two historic structures on this block, he said — his funeral home and Owens Funeral Home.

"I think it would be wonderful to keep them all grouped together like that," Vaughn said.

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