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Urbana city and school officials hope to redevelop the site of a downtown school district building.

The Urbana school district building on North Race Street in downtown Urbana.

The site of a school district building could become downtown Urbana’s next commercial development.

For years, the one-story building at 205-211 North Race Street was home to District 116’s administrative headquarters and adult education center. With those offices moving elsewhere, the district wants to sell the property to the city, which would then tear it down and seek a commercial developer for the site.

City administrator Carol Mitten is confident that a developer can be found. She says the reopening of the nearby Urbana Landmark Hotel as the Hotel Royer is expected to bring new customers to downtown Urbana, which could help any business or apartment building that opens at the school district location.

“With the hotel opening, Race Street is becoming as important a corridor as Main Street is,” said Mitten. “So, this will be a good site to have in play.”

The school district building is in one of Urbana’s tax increment finance, or TIF districts. They offer incentives to developers in the short term, and a new source of tax revenue for the city and school district.

With that future tax revenue in mind, the city and school district would welcome a multi-story building on the site. But they need to make sure the site can support a bigger, heavier building.

That all depends on a nearby embankment built years ago to protect Boneyard Creek, which runs in back of the site.

Mitten says a study of the embankment’s structure will tell them if the site can safely hold a bigger building.

“We want the geo-technical report to tell us where those structures are, and how realistic it is to try to build something that might be multi-story on the school district property,” said Mitten.

The Urbana City Council is expected to vote moving ahead with the city’s purchase of the Race Street building from District 116 at a special council meeting on Monday, June 5th.

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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