Kams move Daniel Street 1

A pedestrian walks past Kam's on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, in the 600 block of East Daniel Street in Champaign. The 'home of the Drinking Illini' has filed a permit to be rebuilt at the corner of First and Green streets, with its former block set to be turned in an apartment/office/retail complex.

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CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois will be the major tenant in a $75 million redevelopment along East Daniel Street, just steps from the Quad, under the terms of a proposed lease made public Monday.

The UI plans to rent more than 86,500 square feet of space in a new office/retail/apartment building in the 600 block of East Daniel in Champaign, which is being developed by Core Champaign Daniel LLC, officials said Monday.

The space will be used for the growing School of Information Sciences, now headquartered in a former fraternity house a block away at 501 E. Daniel St., C, and for the new vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion and his staff.

Michael Bass, senior associate vice president and deputy comptroller, presented the proposed lease to the UI Board of Trustees’ Audit, Budget, Finance and Facilities Committee on Monday in advance of the board’s regular business meeting next week.

Trustees will be asked to delegate authority to administrators to sign the lease, as the project will likely move ahead before the next board meeting in September, Bass said.

Kam's to be rebuilt at First and Green amid plans to reshape block it has called home

Core Champaign Daniel LLC has acquired all of the businesses fronting Daniel, including Kam’s, which is moving to First and Green streets, and Espresso Royale, which recently closed but hopes to be part of the new development.

The developer intends to demolish those buildings and replace them with a 442-bed apartment building with 99,500 square feet of office space and 10,500 square feet of retail space, Bass said.

Construction is expected to start by September and take about two years, he said.

“They’re ready to go; they’re ready to move,” Bass said.

The campus master plan identifies that block of Daniel, between Wright and Sixth streets, for mixed-use buildings. The property is surrounded by university-owned buildings — the Illini Union Bookstore next door on Wright, the UI Psychology Building across Daniel, and the Swanlund Administration Building to the north, at Sixth and John streets.

The UI will pay $23 a square foot for academic and support space in the new building, or about $2 million annually, under the proposed 10-year lease. The university has the option of terminating the lease after five years, Bass said under questioning from trustees.

The UI offices will be on the second, third and fourth floors of the building, Bass said.

$4.8 million in 'air rights'

The university is also trading “air rights” from the parking lot it owns on Sixth Street, between Daniel and the Swanlund building, for ownership of 13,000 square feet of space in the new development. The air rights are worth about $4.8 million, Bass said.

He said the 13,000 square feet would likely be on the first floor and be used for other UI offices.

The developer will also pay for streetscape improvements along Daniel, which will be “transformed” by the project, Bass said.

Tom Harrington, Core’s executive vice president for acquisitions, declined to comment on the development Monday, saying he’s “just not in a position to say anything about it” yet.

Core is also building the 17-floor “Hub on Campus” high-rise around the corner at Sixth and Green, which will include student apartments and a ground-level Target store.

State waiver sought

The proposed UI lease requires a waiver from state higher education procurement rules, which Bass was hopeful would be granted this week. The waiver would allow the university to enter into the lease without seeking proposals from other potential landlords.

UI Vice President and CFO Avijit Ghosh said he expects the lease will need to be signed before the next board meeting in September, “which is why we are bringing it now,” he said.

The School of Information Sciences, which is expanding as part of a campuswide data sciences push, announced a new dean last week — Eunice Santos, chairwoman of the department of computer science at the Illinois Institute of Technology,

And the campus just hired its first vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion last month — Sean Garrick, a noted engineering professor who oversees efforts to diversify faculty ranks at the University of Minnesota.

Chez Veterans Center

In other business Monday, the UI proposed a new name for the Chez Family Foundation Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education. If trustees approve, the new name will be simplified to the Chez Veterans Center.

The center was designed to provide housing, academic support and other services for veterans, particularly those with disabilities.

“The name change is intended to reflect that it provides services to all student veterans, not just those who have acquired disabilities,” Bass said.

Students strongly support the change, as does the donor and benefactor, Ron Chez, he said.


Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is jwurth@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).