Residents Cite Safety, ‘Neighborhood Flavor’ Among Concerns With Housing Proposal

January 21, 2014

Plans for a six-story apartment complex just north of the University of Illinois campus have generated a lot of public comment. 

The proposal was delayed last week so members of the Champaign Plan Commission can get more information about the 550-unit proposal on East University Avenue between 5th and Wright Streets. 

Longtime residents of the neighborhood, like Maggie and Ebbie Cook, say they’ve been left in the dark on the plan until recently. 

They said that large a complex, built largely for U of I students, will hurt the neighborhood, not enhance it.  Ebbie cites pedestrian safety on University Avenue, and parking among his top concerns.

"Because when you get that type of influx of automobiles, they're going to go even further north," he said.  "From Park Street, they're going to go to Church Street, Hill Street, Washington Street, wherever they can park (to) be close to their building.  It's just a hectic mess."

Input submitted to city planners by the 5th and Hill Neighborhood Rights Campaign also cites concerns about property value, noise and light pollution.

Two backers of the project, area residents Brent and Amanda West, cite the potential for stimulating more investment in their letter, and replacing ‘blighted’ properties with safe and attractive housing.

The plan commission put off its vote last Wednesday.  Lorrie Pearson with the Champaign Planning Department cites ‘inconsistencies’ with the application material, letting the developer, Investment Property Advisors,tighten up some details. 

"There was an indication that they had some additional information on parking and  other developments, so we're going to take a look at that, and there were some inconsistencies with labeling on their materials," she said.

The plan commission will get another look at the plan February 5th.   Approval there would allow the plan to go to city council.

Story source: WILL