Plan might find new use for Douglas Hotel, longtime Urbana eyesore

‘Legacy Place’ project in Urbana receives almost $1M in funding from state tax credit

The plan to redevelop a long-vacant hotel and two elementary schools in Urbana will move forward after developers received almost $1 million in funding from an Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

Flaherty and Collins Properties, a developer based in Indianapolis, worked to secure the funding for a project that would convert the Douglas Hotel, as well as North and South Elementary Schools in Urbana, into affordable senior housing.

The project, called Legacy Place, would create 51 housing units available to residents 55 and older.

“We are super excited, this was a big hurdle and achieving this credit is a really exciting achievement,” said Marica Bailey, Director of the Champaign Economic Partnership. “We are ready to move forward with this process.”

MORE: Plan might find new use for Douglas Hotel, longtime Urbana eyesore

While funding for the project has been secured, Bailey said, the project is still a work in progress.

“There is no start time,” Bailey said. “This project is still in the making, but this is a big step in the making.”

The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation office and the Ohio Development Services Agency. The credit is awarded to, “assist private developers in rehabilitating historic buildings in downtown and neighborhoods.”

“Partnering with communities and developers across Ohio, we’re preserving historic sites that make Ohio unique,” Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, said in a news release. “We’re creating new opportunities for small businesses and housing.”

The Legacy Place project is just one of 22 projects awarded the tax credit. In total, the Ohio Department of Services Agency awarded more than $28 million for the rehabilition of 49 historic buildings, according to the ODSA.

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Under the Legacy Place project, the city of Urbana has agreed to take ownership of the two elementary school buildings and transfer them to the Champaign Economic Partnership. The CEP will then transfer the two buildings to Flaherty and Collins.

The next step in the Legacy Place project since receiving the credit, will be to work on transferring and finalizing property agreements, Bailey said.

“We are going to be meeting up and working through the fine details of the project and finalizing some of the purchasing agreements and stuff like that in the coming months,” Bailey said.

The former Douglas Hotel is privately owned by John Doss, who plans to work out a separate agreement with the company.

Doss said previously that he purchased the Douglas with plans to eventually restore it, although it’s been a slow process to track down funding and find a suitable project.

The former hotel has been vacant for more than a decade and city officials have said in the past they believe the building is an eyesore downtown. Turning the site into senior housing will encourage more residents to live downtown and create new opportunities for retailers, Bailey said.

“This is going to have a tremendous impact and the making of this has been an incredible effort,” Bailey said.

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