CHAMPAIGN — Champaign developer Dan Hamelberg said he plans to move ahead with designs for a new apartment community along First Street, west of the Boneyard Basin.
Meanwhile, the owner of an adjacent auto body shop at the northeast corner of First Street and Springfield Avenue said he plans to tear it down and replace it with a new commercial building.
Together, those two developments have the potential to significantly change the looks of First Street north of Springfield Avenue.
"Both fit in well with our vision for the area," Champaign Planning Director Bruce Knight said.
Hamelberg, who owns several properties in the First and Stoughton street area, said he plans to renovate a 12-unit apartment building at 103 E. Stoughton St.
"Everything else is coming down by the end of the year," Hamelberg said.
That includes the Blue Star convenience store building at 408 S. First St.; a former self-service laundry building at 308 S. First St.; and a house at 101 E. Stoughton St.
On those properties, Hamelberg's apartments company, the University Group, plans to construct three or four new apartment buildings in a "village-style" development.
That development would include 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. Hamelberg envisions one or two restaurants there — possibly a sandwich shop and a sit-down restaurant, "probably non-Italian," he said.
Hamelberg said the buildings would be either three- or four-story and have one or two-bedroom apartments geared toward "older students."
The University Group has been working with architect Kennedy Hutson Associates on plans for the development, but construction isn't expected to begin until next year, Hamelberg said.
Meanwhile, Jin Hwan Park said he plans to develop a two-story building at the northeast corner of First and Springfield, where Jin's Pro Auto Body was located.
That business closed about eight months ago, and Park said the structure will be demolished "pretty quick" to make way for the new building. Park said he's still working with the city on details of the new building, but plans to "start it this year."
Park said he intends to operate a Japanese restaurant on the first floor of the new building and perhaps lease the second floor as commercial space.
"It's going to be a good location to connect campus and downtown," Park said.
Park, originally from South Korea, said he may include some Korean cuisine at the restaurant.
Knight said Park's project would have outdoor seating overlooking the Boneyard Basin. Knight said all new construction along the basin must be at least two stories tall and have a certain amount of window space on the facade.
"We'd certainly like to see a continuation of these types of projects along the basin," Knight said.
Hamelberg said after the University Group's plans for the east side of First Street are complete, the company intends to develop a four- to five-story apartment building on the west side of First Street.
That would be at 309 S. First St., where the University Group's offices are currently located. Hamelberg's son, Chris, is the company's general manager.
The new multistory building would house the University Group and other offices on its main floor, have apartments on its upper floors and feature a central courtyard, Dan Hamelberg said.
In another recent move, the University Group has acquired the former Starr Imports building at 309 S. Locust St., with plans to renovate it for the University Group's maintenance division.
Eventually, the company may add an upper story to the building and create more apartments there, Hamelberg said.
Hamelberg first outlined his vision for the First Street developments in 2009. But at the time, he said he didn't expect work to begin on the projects until at least 2011. Originally, he considered both apartments and condominiums, but has since settled on apartments.