URBANA — A Texas-based developer completed its purchase Monday of property needed to build what Urbana officials are calling the gateway to the University of Illinois.
With construction slated to begin this winter at the southeast corner of Lincoln and University avenues, the Gather project is expected to include about 200 apartments, 50 extended-stay rooms and 15,000 square feet of lobby, retail and outdoor public areas.
“Our company is very pleased to have completed the acquisition of this significant property in Urbana,” said Graeme Rael, a principal officer of Rael Development Corp. “We are confident that the development will be a source of pride for both the city and our firm.”
Rael is a University of Michigan grad who has a number of similar housing projects in other college towns.
The project will be bounded on the north by University and the railroad, on the east by Busey Avenue and on the west by Lincoln.
The Wakeland family owned all of the properties north of Clark Street, which will bisect the project and part of the block south of it.
The corner has been up for sale since at least January 2017, when it had a listing price for $6.5 million.
The property’s broker, Alex Ruggieri, declined to divulge the sale price, but called it a “stellar development.”
“The Gather project is a game changer for Urbana,” he said.
Likewise, Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said the $30 million project “will transform the gateway entrance to the University of Illinois campus and is part of the growing commercial investment along University Avenue in Urbana.”
The project also runs up against the West Main Street Historic District to the south, which includes homes once owned by members of the Busey family. One dates back to around 1878.
Residents of the historic district expressed concern about the project, which includes buildings up to five floors, but the city council voted 4-1 in February to approve a rezoning agreement.