His organization, which was formed in 1992 to highlight historic locations in the county, awarded $4,000 in commercial grants this year using money raised from last year’s loft tours.
Pollock said the loft tours are meant to showcase the activity being done in downtown Urbana as many historic buildings are being renovated and converted into retail and living spaces.
Patrick Thackery, who owns two buildings downtown, said rent for those lofts and apartments are between $400 to $1,200 depending on the unit.
Many of those buildings are more than a century old and in some cases have sat vacant for decades. Though spaces in some of those buildings have been converted into apartments in the past, that trend has grown in recent years.
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“Unless you tear down one of these buildings, there is not a lot space to build. This is were a lot of development is going to take place in the future,”Pollock said of recent initiatives to restore aging real estate in the area.
The Champaign Economic Partnership has recently commissioned a $40,000 study to examine the county’s housing situation. The study is being conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center and is expected to be completed in January.
It will look at common housing challenges in the city of Urbana as well as the villages of Mechanicsburg, North Lewisburg and St. Paris as well as what local community organizations and local governments can do to improve it.
Bill Bean, the mayor of Urbana, told the News-Sun that his city is landlocked and there is not much land available to develop new single family homes. It has prompted some property owners in downtown Urbana to convert the second and third stories of their buildings into rentable lofts and apartments.
Marcia Bailey, the economic development director for Champaign County, said she estimates 10 loft apartments and more that are being developed in the city’s Monument Square.
The county preservation alliance held its first urban loft tour in downtown Urbana in 2014. At the time there were only seven downtown apartments and lofts. Now, there are more than a dozen and a handful of developers are looking to create 14 more, Pollock said.
How to go
What: Urban Loft Tour
Where: Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St., Urbana
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2