Staff Steps Up to Facilitate Downtown Projects

Staff Steps Up to Facilitate Downtown ProjectsAs construction begins on several sizable projects in downtown, it is a visible reminder of the coordination required among dozens of City staff in multiple departments over the last two years.

Hyatt Place Hotel, Neil and Church Streets. The approval of the development agreement by Council recently was the culmination of months of negotiations between the developer and City staff from the City Manager’s Office, Finance, Legal, and Planning Departments. Once approved, it was then up to staff from Engineering and Planning to work with the contractors to design a construction project minimizing the impact on the surrounding properties, City streets and sidewalks, and the downtown as a whole. While Neil Street is closed for one block for one week for sanitary sewer work to support the project, future full closures of streets are not expected. Should any closures be necessary the City will work with the Champaign Center Partnership to minimize the impacts on businesses. A team from the City Manager’s Office, Planning, and Public Works are currently working with the developer, architect, and landscape architects on streetscape design for both the surrounding sidewalks and the full redevelopment of the “Boltini” Alley.

Staff Steps Up to Facilitate Downtown ProjectsEden Supportive Living, State and Church Streets. The reuse of a hotel for residential units on a small lot required Council approval of both a development agreement and special use permit to provide some relief from the City’s parking requirement. Each of those approvals followed extensive discussions among the developer and City staff from the City Manager’s Office, Parking, Engineering, and Planning. After the necessary approvals were granted, the developer then worked closely with Building Safety, Engineering, and Planning to work through the challenges of retrofitting an older building to meet the needs of disabled residents and maintain a construction site that would keep traffic flowing around the site. The resulting construction plan closes a block of Park Street but maintains access to the community services located there.

Staff Steps Up to Facilitate Downtown ProjectsVirginia Theatre, Randolph and Park Streets. The closing of that block of Park Street was possible since the Virginia Theater is temporarily closed while it undergoes its own construction project. City Engineering and Planning staff coordinated with the Champaign Park District to ensure the Virginia’s interior renovations and restorations would not be negatively impacted by the construction of Eden Supportive Living. Coordination with neighboring property owners was important given the high level of construction surrounding each of these properties.

Coordination is needed among various City departments to facilitate one individual construction project. An even greater level of teamwork is required when several significant projects are underway simultaneously within two blocks of one another. As the construction continues, these staff teams will monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed to ensure the growing downtown still functions as a community destination and a place to do business.