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.
Moving forward with the project was contingent on whether that money was secured.
In late November, the developer was awarded $700,000 to tie up the funding.
“Elated was the word I thought of — and relief,” said City of Urbana Community Development Manager Doug Crabill. “I don’t know where we would have gone if we had that $700,000 gap.”
Prior to November the developers secured nearly $10 million in tax credits and shortly after the announcement of the FHLB Cincinnati grant award, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency also approved a loan for the project for $1.25 million.
Flaherty & Collins Vice President of Community & Asset Management Duane Miller said now his focus is on due diligence — tying down equity and working through legal documents.
He expects to close in late February 2020, but construction planning has been going on in the background while the funding was being secured — so residents won’t have to wait long after the closing date to see changes.
“We’re about 95 percent done with all the architecture and engineering (plans) so far,” Miller said. “(I’m) looking forward to it. It’ll be quite an impact.”
The project will convert the Douglas Hotel, as well as the former North and South Elementary Schools in Urbana, into affordable senior apartments.
A total of 51 housing units will be available to residents 55 and older. Of those units, 20 would be in the Douglas Hotel on Monument Square with retail on the first floor and the rest of the units would be housed in the elementary schools — on Russell Street and Main Street respectively.
Community partners say not only will the project create new housing for those who move into the new units, but it will also draw more people to Urbana to fill larger homes that become available as older residents downsize.
Although the project includes three separate properties, arguably one of the biggest benefits to come from it will be the renovation of the Douglas, which takes up nearly an entire quadrant of Urbana’s main square.
The former hotel has sat vacant for 16 years and needs its fair share of TLC.
“It is an eyesore as it stands,” said Bailey. “But having it occupied with residents living in it, having the street level occupied with retail possibly — it just gives a whole new essence to the downtown.”
Developers are expected to close on all three properties in early 2020 with construction to immediately follow.
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51 — Senior housing units
20 — Units in former Douglas Inn
$700K —Amount of recent grant bridging funding gap