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Champaign apartment owners continue repairing condemned units


A condemned unit’s door rests slightly ajar at a Champaign Park Apartments building on Feb. 1. The city has lifted condemnations on 13 units, leaving 41 households still in temporary emergency housing, said Champaign Communications Manager Jeff Hamilton. Sydney Wood

The owners of a condemned apartment complex in Champaign agreed on Feb. 9 to make repairs, increase security measures and compensate the city for the money it has spent on housing the complex’s displaced residents.

Since December, the city of Champaign has paid for temporary emergency housing for residents of Champaign Park Apartments whose units were condemned due to water and heating issues. 

The city has spent about $145,400 on hotel rooms since December to house residents, said Nancy Rabel, Champaign Assistant City Attorney. 

The city’s agreement with the property managers states that this payment is due within a month. 

The complex owners are required to make sure that the property’s security gates work properly and hire security personnel. It must also repair all broken windows and secure all entrances to vacant buildings. 

The agreement’s focus on security measures was due in part to the number of abandoned buildings on the property, Rabel said. 

“The complex is really dark out there,” she said. “And because it's such a large complex, in the past, there's been a fairly high crime rate out there.

“The police activity has been quite a bit, and so anytime you have vacant or abandoned buildings and people know that, it's a place that people tend to go.”

In return, the city will continue to provide hotel rooms to residents whose units are condemned. The complex will also be billed on a monthly basis to cover the costs of the ongoing temporary housing, Rabel said.  

Rabel said the city is happy with the outcome of the agreement. 

“The city gained some things,” she said. “It gained reimbursement, so we kind of get that upfront versus at a different time and giving them still time to repair the property, which is what they need. I mean, we knew this was not going to be a quick fix.” 

Unless the remaining condemned units are deemed livable, Rabel said the city and property managers will meet again in court on March 21. 

The property managers have already made some progress in repairing these units, according to Champaign Communications Manager Jeff Hamilton.

In December, the city condemned 393 out of 504 units in the complex, putting 52 households into temporary emergency housing

In early February, 13 units passed inspection and are no longer condemned, Hamilton said. 

“We lifted the condemnations because those units had been properly repaired to the point where people could move back in,” Hamilton said. “But 13 units did pass inspection recently, and so we were able to lift the condemnation from those apartments so that the tenants could then move back into those units.” 

As of Feb. 10, 41 households are still in hotel rooms. The city is in daily contact with these residents, Hamilton said. 

“We're providing active case management and sharing resources with those displaced tenants,” he said. “We're getting them connected with other government resources. 

“Some of them have indicated an interest of maybe looking for an apartment outside of Champaign Park Apartments, and so we've made them aware of different options for other buildings in town as well.” 

Overall, Hamilton said the city’s biggest priority is the safety and well-being of its residents.

“Staying in a hotel is not a permanent solution,” he said. “Getting these folks back home to either the unit that they've been living in or to an alternative unit the apartment owners could provide them with, that would be our primary goal.”

Representatives for Champaign Park Apartments did not respond to requests for comment.