City leaders consider redeveloping area

By Gary Brode |

Published 07/22 2014 06:06PM

Updated 07/23 2014 11:13AM

Update: 10:05 pm, 7/22/14, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN -- City leaders are thinking about tearing down dozens of home where families still live. Bristol Place is northeast of Bradley and Market. WCIA-3's Gary Brode finds out what the city council discussed at its Tuesday night meeting.

The city plans to work with families to find new homes. If it costs more than what these owners are paying, the city would pay the difference. It's all part of the plan to make this neighborhood a destination spot.

"We have a limited amount of property owners that try to really keep up on their homes."

Erma Ballard is one of them. She moved here in 1951.

"I think there are some houses here that need to be torn down and ones that aren't that bad."

Instead of picking and choosing what stays and what goes, the city may decide to start fresh.

"It's some of the poorest housing stock that we have in Champaign. It's some of the lowest valued homes and crime has been an issue."

It's going to take almost five years and cost nearly $8 million to relocate everyone and rebuild.

"To be honest with you, this is the opportunity of a lifetime for my family. My family really don't get stuff like this."

Jerry Williams was born in Chicago. Williams moved to Champaign more than a decade ago when his sister was killed to get away from violence.

"I'm very happy that somebody is taking initiative for this neighborhood, trying to step up and give us the opportunity to move away, you know, fix it up a little bit and give us the opportunity to come back to this neighborhood."

If Williams and his family want to move back in 2019, they'll have first crack at it. But, Ballard isn't looking forward to packing up and moving out.

"There are so many things that need to be done and why would you want to take someone's home from them? That don't make sense to me."

The plan would call for the demolition of abandoned homes in 2014; occupied homes would begin in 2015. The city council will make its final vote in September.
Original: 6:06 pm, 7/22/14, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Part of town will be the focus of improvements Tuesday. City leaders will discuss the proposed plan to demolish homes in the Bristol Place neighborhood and redevelop the area. They're looking at tearing down 82 buildings within a three-year span. The estimated cost of the demolition is just under $1 million.

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