DANVILLE — With a handful of properties still not purchased within the footprint of a planned $50 million Carle medical facility west of downtown Danville, city officials are proposing “taking” them through an eminent-domain resolution.
Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said the final four property owners — out of about 66 mostly residential rental properties in the footprint — won’t “make a commitment one way or another.”
The resolution that aldermen will consider at tonight’s council meeting cites the rehabilitation and or redevelopment of a blighted area as the city’s reason to exercise its eminent-domain power, per state law.
It states that the neighborhood — generally bounded by Madison Street, Logan Avenue, North Street and Gilbert Street — contains buildings that are dilapidated and “a detriment to the public health and safety.”
Tamara Lopez, 45, is one of the final four owners who has not agreed to sell her three-bedroom brick house with a sunporch on the back side and full walk-out basement.
She is one of the few owner-occupied property owners in the footprint and has lived on North Logan Avenue overlooking Ellsworth Park for 25 years.
And she’s close to paying off her house, she said.
The highest offer she said she has received so far has been for $45,000.
Lopez said she countered with $100,000, which has not been accepted.
The last time she spoke with the agent representing the development, she said she was told she had two weeks to come back with a “reasonable” counter offer.
“It’s not worth it to me,” Lopez said of the $45,000 offer. “It’s not going to get me anything close to what I have here. I’m not going to take an offer that I’m going to lose out on.”
Business owner on move
In late August, Carle officials announced a project that will consolidate its existing outpatient services in Danville into a single, multipurpose campus with primary, surgical and specialty care.
Carle officials envision a yet-to-be-fully-designed multi-story building that sits toward the west side of the site, overlooking the east edge of Ellsworth Park, which sits at a lower elevation along the North Fork River.
The footprint goes across several blocks of Logan Avenue. The 17-acre site would displace about 66 properties — including a few owner-occupied homes and a larger number of landlord-owned residential properties, as well as a few commercial buildings and mostly city-owned vacant lots.
The properties listed in the resolution also include 123 N. Logan (owned by Chris Carpenter), 505 Lafayette (owned by Charles Hagan), and 201 N. Logan Ave. and 606 W. Madison (both owned by Alan Dixon).
Kenny’s Logan Appliance is at one of the addresses, and the owner of the business, Kenny Nichols, said he hasn’t agreed to a price yet with the city, but he’s working amicably with officials to find another property where he can relocate.
“We really don’t want to move, but it’s going to put something in here that’s going to help the neighborhood. And I’m OK with that,” Nichols said.
'Build around me'
Kenny’s Logan Appliance is on the east side of Logan, on the north end of the project footprint. Lopez’s house is on the southwest corner of the footprint, on the west side of Logan.
Her house is immediately south of a doctor’s office that’s not in the footprint. Lopez said she has asked if Carle could do without her property, too.
“Build around me. Make my house worth more,” she said.
Lopez said she worked as a pharmacy technician until she had to go on disability due to fibromyalgia and some mental-health issues, including anxiety.
She said moving would be overwhelming physically, and she’s asked for assistance with that. Lopez recalled an issue along that section of Logan Avenue where the hillside behind her house and the doctor’s office were eroding due to a major water leak that went unnoticed for months in an abandoned house about two doors north of hers.
The city, she said, did not help her in that situation, which required her to make repairs to her property. So it upsets her that the city now wants to take her property for what she believes isn’t a price that will allow her to move into a comparable home.
“That’s a lot to lose,” she said of her house. “I never wanted to sell. I told them that from the beginning.”
Lopez said she has researched eminent-domain law, and doesn’t believe what’s happening is fair, given that this isn’t a government project.
She understands the project will be good for Danville and bring more jobs but is quick to add: “They can’t replace what I have here. ... They aren’t offering enough.”