Downtown Champaign: Taking Out of Storage
Construction surrounding the deconstruction of municipal lots N and HS (Hill Street). In the late 1960s - early 1970s, the City of Champaign began a multi-million dollar effort to convert the land here to parking lots. Many of the business owners who were located here were removed by condemnation orders of the city, though most settled out of court.
Currently, the city is going through another kind of development, one where the parking lots built during the 60s - 90s are valued as available, and cheap, space for infill construction projects.
As in many cities across the country, many of these projects are attempts to make themselves more attractive to the "creative classes" - those with disposable income and information management jobs.
Lots N and HS have become the site of M2 on Neil, a mixed use facility housing retail, offices and condos. M2 is a $40 million project by the local property development company, One Main. As a construction effort desirable to the city's redevelopment initiative, the project is receiving not just affordable land, but $5.5 million in additional financial incentives to complete the building.
One Main is also responsible for the other major urban project in downtown Champaign, just across Neil St. from M2, known as One Main - it's address.
One Main was also built on a former municipal lot, one that was only operational for 12 years.
The company is undertaking 3 similar projects in another Illinois mid-sized town with a prominent university, Normal that are worth over $75 million.
Parking will still be a feature of the development, only in the form of a privately managed 500 space architectural facility.
The city is developing other plans for its many other lots, which currently represent 1/3 of all parking in downtown, including turning one of the more prominent ones into a landscaped plaza for gatherings and outdoor events. Beautification projects are high on the list of desires.
One Main's descriptions of their desires and actions towards a new "creative" downtown equates its current state as a vampire to be slain, and the weapon in development:
"To take development back from the edge of the city and drive it deep into the heart of thriving downtown."