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Under the deal, the city of Urbana has agreed to take ownership of the two elementary school buildings and transfer them to the CEP. The CEP will then transfer those two buildings to Flaherty and Collins. The former Douglas Hotel is privately owned by John Doss, who would work out a separate agreement with the company.
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Doss said he purchased the long-vacant hotel with plans to eventually restore it, although it’s been a slow process to track down funding and find a suitable project. It’s sometimes a challenge to attract new development to small cities like Urbana, and a historic building like the Douglas would likely never be replaced if it was torn down, Doss said.
“If the Douglas were torn down, there would be nothing there forever,” Doss said.
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The former hotel has been vacant for more than a decade and city officials have said the building is an eyesore downtown. Turning that site into senior housing will encourage more residents to live downtown and create new opportunities for retailers, Bailey said.
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“It’s just going to make a total difference in the downtown,” Bailey said.
Urbana City School officials previously told the News-Sun that the former North and South Elementary Schools were likely going to be demolished as the district is building a new high school on the same site as the current high school, as well as a preschool-eighth grade school and between Vintage Drive-Thru and Campground Road on the south side of town.
Restoring those buildings instead of demolishing them will also save money for taxpayers, Bailey said.
FACT & FIGURES
Of the three Urbana elementary schools that might be reused for senior housing
Total properties involved in senior housing plan — 2 elementary schools and the Douglas Hotel
Years that the Douglas Hotel has been vacant
The Springfield News-Sun will continue to provide unmatched coverage of jobs and the economy in Clark and Champaign Counties. For this story, the paper spoke to economic development officials about a proposal to restore a long-vacant hotel in downtown Urbana.