CHAMPAIGN — The Housing Authority of Champaign County is sponsoring a proposed 160-unit housing development north of Turnberry Ridge subdivision on Champaign's west side.
The development — a companion project to the redevelopment of Joann Dorsey Homes at Bradley and McKinley avenues — is to be built on 12 acres at 702 Cobblefield Road.
That site is immediately west of Interstate 57 and east of several businesses along Colleen Drive, which extends east from Staley Road south of Springfield Avenue.
According to a description from The Benoit Group, the Atlanta-based private developer working with the housing authority, the new development would be known as Providence at Thornberry and would include 160 "townhomes and walk-up apartments."
They would range from one-bedroom, one-bathroom units to four-bedroom, two-bathroom units.
The JoAnn Dorsey Homes redevelopment project — to be called Providence at Sycamore Hills — would include 92 multifamily and townhome rental units.
Together, the two projects are expected to cost $34 million to develop, with construction costs making up $25 million of that.
Construction was originally projected to start in August and be complete in October 2014. But Edward Bland, the housing authority's executive director, said construction likely won't begin until this fall or the spring of 2014.
"We'll be buying the land, and the developer is putting together the financial package," Bland said, adding that the housing authority won't build or manage the units.
Bland noted that even though Providence at Thornberry is on Champaign's far west side, it's inside the city limits.
"As the population of the county continues to grow, affordable housing is needed not only in Champaign and Urbana, but throughout the county," Bland said. "We're trying to identify sites not just in the core area of the city. Our present sites are in the core area."
The housing authority held two open houses for people who live near the two sites, with the most recent one on Thursday, Bland said.
"They did have some concerns, but I think everyone left satisfied with all their concerns answered," he said.
Among those attending was Josh Means, president of the homeowners' association for Cobblefield Point Condominiums, a 118-unit development immediately south of the Providence at Thornberry site. Means said he and a few other Cobblefield Point residents attended the meeting, and the answers they got "eased a lot of concern."
Since entry to the new development would be from Cobblefield Road, Means said, he wondered about increased traffic on Cobblefield and Inverness Drive and its effect on families with young children along those streets.
Means said he was assured by the developer that the tree line north of Cobblefield Point would be preserved and that Providence at Thornberry would have a fence around it.
Means said he hoped the addition of Providence at Thornberry would help bring Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband and Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District service to the Cobblefield Point area.
Bland said proposed rents for Providence would be $645 for one-bedroom units, $775 for two-bedroom units and $890 for three-bedroom units. Most rents would be subsidized, depending on the household's income and family size, he said.
Torian Priestly, executive vice president of The Benoit Group, said the Providence projects are "mixed-income" developments, where some units are reserved for people making no more than 60 percent of the area median income and others for people making no more than 30 percent of the area median. Market rates will be charged for still other units, he added.
Priestly said The Benoit Group expects to hire a third-party property manager to operate the Providence developments.
He said both projects are designed to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.