Good decision on empty apartments
City officials bit the bullet on a public eyesore.
Government, whatever the level, is about pursuing the common good. That's why the decision by the city of Urbana to take possession of and demolish a dilapidated apartment complex on South Lierman Avenue deserves applause.
It will cost the city an estimated $255,000 to $300,000 to tear down the eight-building Urbana Townhomes apartment complex. But there will be a substantial return to the city and nearby residents in social problems that will be eliminated by removing this eyesore.
Robin Arbiter, president of the Lierman Neighborhood Action Committee, spoke for many when she said that "it's the beginning of something beautiful."
We'll all just have to wait and see how the property is redeveloped. It would be great if this 3-acre tract is eventually put to a positive use that expands the city's property tax base.
In the meantime, it will take a few months to get the demolition process rolling.
The property remains empty and fenced off, a worthless investment the property's owners agreed to transfer to the city at no cost. What was a financial disaster for the owners created a negative ripple effect for the city and its residents.
Members of the Urbana City Council clearly were conflicted by their decision to take possession of the property. The city, after all, does not have money to throw around. Alderman Charlie Smyth complained the city's decision lets the property owner, Urbana Capital LLC, and Deutsche Bank, which holds the mortgage, off the hook. Alderwoman Heather Stevenson complained about the cost. They're both right.
But city officials confront issues as they are, not as they would like them to be. The property is a mess and problems stood to get even worse if not addressed.
So the city stepped up, as it should have.
This area has been a source of considerable angst for many people. Now, there's an opportunity to turn the situation around.