$95 Million Makeover Moves Forward

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CHAMPAIGN--What is now a row of parking lots could become the future home of a $95 million makeover for downtown Champaign.

"This would be the single largest project we've had," said Champaign Planning and Development Director, Bruce Knight.

The same developer that built the Hyatt Place hotel proposes a redevelopment plan that would transform the Freemont and Walnut lots along Washington Street into apartments, offices, stores, a parking deck and a hotel and conference center.

"Turning these inefficient surface parking lots into urban development, adding structured parking, and we think that's the best way to grow downtown," said Knight.

Tuesday night, the city council told city planners to take the next step toward turning this vision into reality by drafting an agreement that would sell the space to the developer.

"The negotiation points for the city are that the developer wants to use a city lot, so you know, how much will we sell that for, will it be part of the incentives for the project," said Mayor Deb Frank Feinen.

If they reach a deal, council would need to approve a preliminary design before work could begin.

"My guess is construction could start either fall of 2016 or spring of 2017," said Knight. "And probably, a year, year and a half construction process."

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