News Local/State

New Development For Lincoln & University In Urbana Would House Students & Professionals

Concept art for the proposed Gather mixed-use development in Urbana.

Concept drawing, showing Rael Development Corporation's Gather development, as seen from North Lincoln Avenue at W. Clark in Urbana. Rael Development Corp.

A Dallas developer hopes to start construction this year on a new residential development just east of the University of Illinois campus in Urbana.

Rael Development Corporation uses the brand name “Gather” for its student housing developments in college towns like Bellingham, Washington and Oxford, Mississippi. But developer Graeme Rael says its Gather project planned for the corner of Lincoln and University Avenues in Urbana will be tailored to its surroundings, and will target its apartments at professionals, as well as students.  

“When we first came to Urbana, we had a different project in mind,” said Rael. “And we worked closely with the city and really studied the area in greater detail, what we’ve done is really, respond to that charm.”

The Gather project in Urbana will be located near the U of I campus. But its location at Lincoln and University puts it at a spot that city officials consider a community gateway. The site is close to Urbana’s two hospitals. It also includes a brick-paved portion of Clark Street, stretching south to the edge of Urbana’s West Main Street Historic District, encompassing several older homes on the 800 block of West Main Street.

“They wanted to reflect the historic nature of the neighborhood to the south,” said Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin. “So the Clark Street brick street will be kept. It’ll have a, really kind of a neighborhood feel. And we think it’s just a very good match for this corner.”

Rael says the Gather development will erect lower-density three-story town home buildings along West Clark Street and Lincoln Avenue, adjacent to the West Main Street homes. He those buildings will be designed to be compatible with the older homes to the house.

“The architectural style of the project leans more traditional,” said Rael. “And the façade is somewhat eclectic, just to respond to the historic nature.”

Meanwhile, a larger, five-story apartment building will front University Avenue. The development will include extended-stay hotel rooms, aimed at families who come to Urbana for a member’s hospital care. Rael says the extended-stay rooms are a feature unique to the Urbana Gather development.

“When we saw the location proximate to the university and the hospital, we saw that demand was there,” said Rael. “And the city also spoke to us about it.”

The building will also include public lobby space with limited retail. Mayor Marlin says all of these features will help broaden the appeal of the Gather project.

“Because of the extended-stay apartments and basically the design of these things, the target is also young professionals, people working at the university, Carle Foundation Hospital, that market as well,” said Marlin.

The Gather project will be built on the site of commercial buildings on Lincoln Avenue near University, and a block of rental houses and apartments on West Clark Street. Mayor Marlin says most of the property is owned by the family of developer Howard Wakeland  --- including offices for his company, Advantage Properties ---- and has been slated for redevelopment for several years. Rael says he hopes construction can begin later this year, with the first of its buildings opening in 2020.

A neighborhood open house on the Gather project is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:00 PM on Tuesday, January 15, in the parish center of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 708 West Main Street in Urbana. Rael and others from his firm plan to attend the open house to discuss the project with residents.