By: Jenna Lawson, WHIO
View video of the announcement on WHIO's website
There were many points in the last five years that community partners thought ‘Legacy Place’ might never happen.
It took time to capture nearly $13 million in funding sources, including historic tax credits – not to mention delays due to the pandemic. But on Thursday, partners announced the funds were released and they are able to move forward with the project. It’s possible construction could start within the next week.
‘Legacy Place’ transforms the Douglas Inn in downtown Urbana and two former elementary schools (North & South) into affordable senior housing. 51 units will be created for those 55 and older, with six of them being devoted to people with disabilities.
“It’s just a real renaissance for Urbana,” Mayor Bill Bean told News Center 7′s Jenna Lawson.
Duane Miller, with development company Flaherty & Collins and also president of F & C Legacy Place, said the project accomplishes two goals: turning three vacant properties into useful properties and filling the need for affordable senior housing in Urbana.
“I love to jump into the skin of a community that’s looking for help and looking for opportunities to spur on their own development,” he said.
The Douglas has been vacant since 2004 and has long been a large eyesore on the southwest corner of Monument Square. The building has somewhat deteriorated and was the target of multiple arson fires in 2019.
The former owner of the property, John Doss, has done work to stabilize the structure. The elementary schools, despite being about 100 years old, are in solid shape, partners said.
The timeline for the project will move quickly. Developers estimate about six months to complete both elementary schools and a little over a year to finish the Douglas. Partners are hopeful that the project will have a positive domino effect on other aspects of Urbana living including neighboring businesses and housing.
“We may see some of those seniors who may move in here and now their single family homes are available for a new families to move in,” said director of the Champaign Economic Partnership, Marcia Bailey.
Bailey added that this solution also preserves the history of all three buildings for the community to enjoy for decades to come. “Having these buildings standing as they are and being repurposed is a huge win for our community,” she said.
Other partners in the project include the City of Urbana, Urbana City Schools and Resident Supports and Services, Inc., which provides housing for seniors and adults with developmental disabilities.
Graham 8th graders inducted into the program were Isabella Branam, Isaiah Branam, Whytney Faulkner, Ian Grider, Seth Huffman, Sarah Lewis, Elijah Melms, Tucker Nave, Mikal Rice, Landyn Simons and Robert Thomas.
Urbana 8th graders inducted were Madison Allen, Olivia Bean, Logan Dale, Trinity Ferrell, Jaminson Gansaulies, Zavian Groom, Amari Jones, Harley Lahrman, Taylor Ruthergord and Annabelle Sabchez.
The students will be the first in their families to receive college degrees.
So far, the Clark State Foundation has partnered with the Urbana and Graham school districts in Champaign County and with the Springfield City, Tecumseh Local and Clark-Shawnee Local school districts in Clark County for this program.
Applicants must be eligible for the free/reduced lunch program; achieve at least a 2.0 grade point average in the fourth quarter during seventh grade; and have parents who have not earned a bachelor’s degree at the time of application.
Eighth graders obtain applications from guidance counselor offices in September. After an interview and evaluation process, the top applicants in each participating school are inducted into the program.
To remain in the program, students must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average and at least a 93% school attendance record, participate in at least 75% of program activities, exhibit good citizenship and take courses that prepare students for college.
THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED. THERE ARE PLANS TO RESCHEDULE IN THE FALL.
You're invited to the Career Preparation Workshop Series that UU is hosting leading up to the March 24 Career Fair.
These workshops are open to all community members including high school students! For more information, please contact email@example.com.
Judges for the contest were George Walker of Advanced Technology Products (ATP); Andrea Mitchell of Job and Family Services; and Nicole Rush of the St. Paris Public Library.
Assisting with the contest were Jason Taylor of Shaffer Manufacturing/ Bundy Baking Solutions, donating the mouse traps; and Dan Yohey of Rittal, creating and making the trophies for the winners.