By Christopher Selmek, Urbana Daily Citizen
The three-story, 54-room Cobblestone Hotel under construction at 170 state Route 55, Urbana, is on budget and on schedule to be completed by mid-May 2020, according to Urbana Hotel LLC managing member Terry Howell. The framing crew lost 12 days of work due to weather, allowed under the construction schedule. Roofers were expected to begin placing tile on Monday.
“The schedule had allowances for weather, and they’ve used up all those allowances to date,” Howell said Friday, Dec. 27. “I would personally like to have seen it a week ahead of schedule, but we’ve had rain come at inopportune times. On Monday the shingle people will come in and they’ll start putting the sofﬁt on and the shingles on.”
Howell said that the framing crew was contracted from Florida by BriMark Builders, that the crew is the number one framing crew for BriMark and that this is the 15th hotel they have built.
“Any construction project usually has a little impediment here or a miscommunication there. That’s kind of normal, but there’s not been very much of that,” he said. “There’s always some of that on any project, but there hadn’t been very much of that on this one. It’s going very smoothly.”
Plumbers and HVAC contractors are at work inside the structure. The concrete pool is built and just needs a liner. Howell said there are as many as 10-15 people working on site during any given day depending on what they are trying to accomplish that day.
“There’s a schedule where you have different trades that have to come together to ﬁt,” Howell said. “The rooms are all laid out and numbered already on the inside. They’re laid out in a rough frame, and there’s an electrical map on each room so electricians know where to run wires and so on. It has been sequenced appropriately and is right on schedule and on budget. Everything is going fairly smooth.”
Howell added that the people working on the entrance will install awning, and then signage will go on the cupola. The “mountain of mud” currently surrounding the building will be transformed into a parking lot big enough to park buses beside the building within the coming months.
“I would have no problem staying here,” he said. “I live just three miles from here so I doubt if I ever will spend the night here, but all the rooms have character. We’ve got like six different styles of rooms … and they have varying amenities that they offer, so they’re not all the same. We are really excited.”
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304
By Jenna Lawson, Springfield News-Sun Staff Writer
The last bit of needed funding has been secured to push forward the ‘Legacy Place’ senior housing project in Urbana.
Sourcing all of the funding has been a tedious multi-year task undertaken by several different parties — but soon residents will start to see the fruits of labor.
“This is going to be a reality,” said Champaign Economic Development Director Marcia Bailey. “It’s not just sketches on a piece of paper. It’s going to be a reality.”
In August, the developers of the project — Flaherty & Collins Properties — applied for a grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati with the help of community partners.
The Cobblestone Hotel is starting to take shape. Concrete was poured early Friday morning, and on Sunday, the framing crew started. Floor joists are coming this Thursday. The goal is to have this totally framed by Thanksgiving.
The three-story, 54-room hotel is being built at intersection of 68 & 55 on the south end of Urbana. The project is expected to be completed by May of 2020.
Click here to learn more about the project and what it will mean for Champaign County!
“It’s exciting that another piece of the puzzle has been approved for funding,” said Champaign Economic Partnership Executive Director Marcia Bailey. “Nothing is finalized yet, and we’re not quite ready to sign for the property, but the city, Urbana City Schools and the CEP have done everything we can on our end and now we’re continuing to work with Flaherty & Collins to get this project to the final stages.”
According to ODSA, Legacy Place is only the second project to be awarded in Urbana. The awards are planned to assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtowns and neighborhoods that, once rehabilitated, drive further investment and interest in adjacent property.
“The historic preservation tax credit is another way we’re investing in our communities,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a news release. “These investments can spur development in a neighborhood or downtown.”
“Partnering with communities and developers across Ohio, we’re preserving historic sites that make Ohio unique,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of ODSA. “We’re creating new opportunities for small businesses and housing.”
The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office. The state Historic Preservation Office determines if a property qualifies as a historic building and if the rehabilitation plans comply with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Bailey said that in addition to providing a built-in customer base for downtown business owners, the project will be an example for the Moving Downtown Forward committee to inform developers how to move projects ahead in downtown Urbana.
According to information from the ODSA, the Douglas Inn was constructed about 1870 in the Second Empire style with a mansard roof. The structure has been vacant since 2004. When ready to complete the sale of property, Flaherty & Collins will work directly with private owner John Doss to acquire the Douglas Inn.
“Just seeing the Douglas get put back into use again is a very positive thing for the community,” said Community Development Manager Doug Crabill. “Seeing those school buildings be reused rather than being torn down and vacant lots gives us a good feeling, because at least we know there is a plan for re-purposing those buildings.”
“It’s something we’re used to doing and we feel like there’s usually an extra need for senior housing in communities, and in communities like Urbana there’s a need to help older (buildings) continue their life,” said Julie Collier, vice president of Development for Flaherty & Collins Properties. “It’s two-fold for us because we’ll help save some important buildings in … Urbana, and we’ll also fulfill a housing need for local residents.”
The two schools, built in 1901 and 1921, served the city’s children until they became vacant in 2018. Bailey said the Ohio Revised Code allows the school district to dis-invest of the two properties no longer needed by the school district. Rather than demolish the buildings, the plan is for them to be purchased by the city for $1 each under an alreadysigned purchase agreement. Then the CEP will act on behalf of the city to sell the buildings to Flaherty and Collins.
“The city council agreed to do all of this,” said Bailey. “We had the city schools that were willing because they didn’t want to see the buildings (demolished) either, and it’s a cost savings for taxpayers not to have to pay for the demolition. But the city council agreed that they will take on the buildings … That was an important component, because if the city had not agreed to do that we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now.”
On March 19, the Urbana City Council unanimously passed a resolution of support for the developers of Legacy Place to apply to the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. Flaherty & Collins also obtained tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.
‘Legacy Place’ project in Urbana receives almost $1M in funding from state tax credit
The project, called Legacy Place, would create 51 housing units available to residents 55 and older.
“We are super excited, this was a big hurdle and achieving this credit is a really exciting achievement,” said Marica Bailey, Director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. “We are ready to move forward with this process.”
MORE: Plan might find new use for Douglas Hotel, longtime Urbana eyesore
While funding for the project has been secured, Bailey said, the project is still a work in progress.
“There is no start time,” Bailey said. “This project is still in the making, but this is a big step in the making.”
The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation office and the Ohio Development Services Agency. The credit is awarded to, “assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtown and neighborhoods.”
“Partnering with communities and developers across Ohio, we’re preserving historic sites that make Ohio unique,” Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, said in a news release. “We’re creating new opportunities for small businesses and housing.”
The Legacy Place project is just one of 22 projects awarded the tax credit. In total, the Ohio Department of Services Agency awarded more than $28 million for the rehabilition of 49 historic buildings, according to the ODSA.
Under the Legacy Place project, the city of Urbana has agreed to take ownership of the two elementary school buildings and transfer them to the Champaign Economic Partnership. The CEP will then transfer the two buildings to Flaherty and Collins.
The next step in the Legacy Place project since receiving the credit, will be to work on transferring and finalizing property agreements, Bailey said.
“We are going to be meeting up and working through the fine details of the project and finalizing some of the purchasing agreements and stuff like that in the coming months,” Bailey said.
The former Douglas Hotel is privately owned by John Doss, who plans to work out a separate agreement with the company.
Doss said previously that he purchased the Douglas with plans to eventually restore it, although it’s been a slow process to track down funding and find a suitable project.
The former hotel has been vacant for more than a decade and city officials have said in the past they believe the building is an eyesore downtown. Turning the site into senior housing will encourage more residents to live downtown and create new opportunities for retailers, Bailey said.
“This is going to have a tremendous impact and the making of this has been an incredible effort,” Bailey said.
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$988,058: Total tax credit the Legacy Place project has received as a part of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit
51: Housing units for residents 55 and older the Legacy Place project will create
3: Total properties involved in the senior housing plan- 2 elementary schools and the Douglas Hotel
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