Urbana senior housing project faces one final hurdle

Community partners involved in the project to redevelop the Douglas Hotel in Urbana say they are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After about five years of work behind-the-scenes, Champaign County economic officials said that the developers have applied for a pivotal grant that would push the funding for the project across the finish line.

“(The developer) has indicated to us if they’re able to secure that grant, then they can move forward toward a closing to this project,” said City of Urbana Community Development Manager, Doug Crabill.

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Crabill, as well as Champaign County Economic Development Director, Marcia Bailey have been working with Flathery and Collins Properties, a developer based in Indianapolis that has expressed interest in the project, to secure the funding for ‘Legacy Place.’

The project would convert the Douglas Hotel, as well as the former North and South Elementary Schools in Urbana, into affordable senior apartments.

Crabill said the funding for the project has been slow — but steady, as it involves combining several different funding sources.

In May 2018, Flaherty and Collins was awarded just under $8 million in housing tax credits through the Ohio Housing Fiance Agency.

In June 2019, the project then received just over $1 million in state historical tax credits from an Ohio Historical Preservation Tax Credit. The credit was administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation office and Ohio Development Services Agency.

Most recently — in August, Flaherty and Collins submitted a grant application for at least $500,000 to the Affordable Housing Program of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati.

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Awards of this competitive grant program will be announced in November, Crabill said.

Legacy Place would create 51 housing units available to residents 55 and older. Of those units, 20 would be in the Douglas Hotel with retail on the first floor and the rest of the units would be housed in the elementary schools.

The Douglas has been empty for about 16 years and takes up nearly an entire corner of Monument Square.

The downtown area is also undergoing a major renovation project with the reconstruction of the Monument Square roundabout to make it more pedestrian friendly.

“That corner would just come alive with the Douglas being habitated,” said Bailey.

Bailey said she and Crabill speak with Flaherty and Collins every two weeks about the project.

“They’re still working on their numbers to make sure their numbers work,” Bailey said — but added, “They are very much committed to the project.”

Depending on final approval from OHFA and the approval of the pending grant with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, the developer hopes to be able to close on this project on or before April 30, 2020 and construction would then start later that year.

51 — Housing units for residents 55 and older the Legacy Place project will create

3 — Total properties involved in the senior housing plan

$9M — tax credits already awarded toward the project

The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering economic developments in Clark and Champaign counties.

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