Legacy Place to see its first tenants in Urbana, part of larger effort to create more housing

A project that aims to bring more senior housing into downtown Urbana will see its first tenants this month.

The redevelopment, known as Legacy Place, involved three vacant buildings in downtown Urbana.

It aims to create a total of 51 affordable apartments for seniors. Construction related to that project began last year.

Local officials say that by having more people living in the area, it can further drive the local economy.

The project is expected to also free up existing housing stock in the area, especially as Champaign County is seeing a tight housing market.

The idea is that seniors in the community would rent the newly finished apartments and potentially sell their homes as they look to downsize.

Some apartments from Legacy Place are coming online as other old buildings in downtown Urbana are being renovated and turned into living spaces.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Those other projects seek to bring not just seniors into the downtown, but also families and young professionals.

The plan is by having more people living in the area, they will patronize nearby businesses and restaurants, said Urbana Mayor Bill Bean.

County and city officials have been looking at ways to attract new housing development over the past few years.

A housing analysis conducted in the county and released last year showed that 75% of homes there were built before 1990. It was also found that about 80% of new home construction since 2010 has occurred outside municipal boundaries in the county.

Urbana city officials, such as Bean, have previously told the News-Sun that projects to create more living opportunities also allow for the repurposing of buildings in downtown Urbana that in some cases have sat vacant for years.

That is the case for Legacy Place, which involves the Douglas Hotel that has been vacant for over 15 years. The project also involves the former Urbana North and South Elementary Schools.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The three will be called Legacy Place Monument Square, Legacy North and Legacy South respectively. The new apartment units will be spread out between those three properties with future residents slated to move into the former South Elementary building first.

There are 14 apartments at Legacy Place South, 20 at North and 17 at the former Douglas Hotel.

Apartments at Legacy Place South are expected to be completed this month. Some tenants are expected to move in around that time as well, said Marcia Bailey, the director of the Champaign Economic Partnership.

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Bailey did not give an exact date when some of the apartments would be ready for tenants. But a news release from her organization stated that apartments would be ready for move-in by mid to late June in the former Urbana North and South elementary schools.

That information was attributed to Jill Meals-Herron, the CEO of Herron Property Management, which will manage the Legacy Place properties in Urbana.

A website associated with the project, livelegacyplace.com, stated that some apartments would be ready as early as this week at Legacy South and that apartments would be ready at Legacy North by the end of July.

Bailey said that tours are being conducted at some of the almost finished apartments and some of those units have already been leased.

Meals-Herron stated in the news release that the apartments in the former Douglas Hotel in downtown Urbana would be ready by the end of December or early January.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Douglas has been empty since 2004 and takes up nearly an entire corner of Monument Square.

Urbana officials say that by turning that building as well as the former elementary schools into senior housing it will boost local economic activity in downtown Urbana. It also comes at a time as businesses are beginning to pick back up as state restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic have been lifted.

Bailey said that the Legacy Place project is expected to free up additional housing in a traditionally tight housing market while tying into larger redevelopment efforts. The project, especially renovations to the former Douglas Hotel, are happening as approximately 40 loft apartments are in the works in the Monument Square area in downtown, she added.

“It will provide seniors comfortable, affordable living as it restores and gives new purpose to three historic buildings, helps make our community more attractive, increases the vitality of downtown Urbana, and strengthens our local economy,” Bailey said of the Legacy Place project.

A gourmet hotdog restaurant called Not-A-Dog will be opening near the former Douglas Hotel this month as well.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Urbana Mayor Bean said he is excited to see that some of those senior apartments are almost completed. He said that the Legacy Place project has been in the works for over four years.

The Douglas as well as the former elementary school sites are being developed by Flaherty & Collins Properties, which has been working with community partners in Urbana since 2017.

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Renovations to those buildings started after $13 million in funding was approved for the project. That gave the green light to start construction, representatives of the Champaign Economic Partnership said last year.

That money is a combination of federal and state Historic Tax Credits, low income housing tax credits, an Ohio Housing Finance Agency loan and a construction loan.

Renovations to the three buildings involved in the project began towards the end of last year.

Leasing for Legacy Place apartments are open to seniors who are 55 years-old or older. Those interested can visit livelegacyplace.com to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire and to schedule a tour at Legacy North or South.

They can also contact the management team at 937-638-0211 or legacyplace@herronmgmt.com.

Facts & Figures

3: Number of sites that make up Legacy Place

51: Total number of apartments in the project

55: Minimum age to qualify to live in Legacy Place

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