Future Plans for the City of Urbana

As your real estate agent, one of my tasks is to be your area expert.  If you are looking to buy a home, purchasing in a location that suits your needs best is often just as important as the home itself.  If you are thinking about selling, I can use my knowledge of the area to market your home in a more comprehensive way to appeal to more buyers.

City Sign from the City of Urbana website

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to meet with several of Urbana’s city officials to discuss the City’s future plans for schools, parks, roads, commercial expansion, and other items of interest.  We spent about 2 hours going through Urbana and discussing the various points of interest we passed.  I have narrowed down the highlights for you so that it won’t take you two hours to learn what I learned.  I will start with some of the recent news-worthy items:

The Olympian Drive expansion – The projected start date for the expansion will be in 2013, with a plan to extend Olympian Drive from Duncan Rd in Champaign to Lincoln Rd in Urbana, with a bridge over the railroad tracks just West of Lincoln Ave.  At this point, the project is estimated to cost $20 million, with most of it ($18M) coming from state and federal funding, and Champaign/Urbana contributing $1M each.  The long-term plan is to extend Olympian Drive all the way East to Cunningham Avenue.  If 2013 is too long to wait, the next road improvement project is to re-construct Airport Road East of Cunningham Ave.  This project is scheduled to begin this summer, and the road improvements will service the Landis Farm and Somerset subdivisions (almost as far east as Brownfield Road).

Menards store on High Cross Road – You’ve seen the Menards signs for years, but no signs of development.  A few years ago, Menards purchased about 300 acres of land along High Cross, with the intent to build a Menards store and 500 residential homes (with Menards materials – genius!).  With the economic slow-down, however, the plans have been put on hold indefinitely, although the land has already been purchased.  Supposedly, Menards has purchased land in other areas of the Midwest also and is now trying to determine which of the areas they will pursue first.  Urbana is “doing what they can” to try to be at the top of that list.

Recent Pool Referendum – The people have spoken, and Urbana will be constructing a brand-new family aquatic center on Broadway Avenue, just North of Crystal Lake Park.  The referendum’s promise is for the facility to open in 2013.  The plan is to have an area with various pools and points of interest to appeal to a multi-generational clientele.  For instance, if grandparents want to take their grandchildren to the pool, there will be something for everyone to do.  At this point, the design and engineered is being prepared in order to start getting bids for the project.

The Historic Lincoln Hotel – If you’ve been through downtown Urbana recently, you’ve probably seen/heard the construction around this building.  The building has been purchased and will be renamed to the Urbana Landmark Hotel.  The building is currently being re-roofed and should partially open later this year.  The owner’s intent is to fully open to the public in 2012 as a full-service hotel, with “historical flavor and a high level of service”.

The old Denny’s building at 119 N. Race – The city does not own the building, but has given permission to the owners to utilize city funds to demolish it.  The footprint of the old building will be a parking lot and a green area.  The Courier Cafe might want to expand into this new area with outdoor seating, but at this time there are no plans for re-development.

If you have any specific questions about Urbana, please let me know!  I might have answers readily available for the following topics, in no particular order:

– UCBB (Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband) $20M grant

– Plans for school improvements throughout Urbana

– New offerings at the Urbana Free Library

– How some of the various projects around downtown Urbana will be financed

– The Lincoln exhibit at the County Courthouse

– Boneyard Creek $7M transformation plan

– Campus improvements, like the Gregory Place complex and Goodwin Avenue

– Future of the Windsor Swim Club (across from Meadowbrook Park)

– Urbana High School future athletic facility

– The Urbana U-Cycle recycling program

– The Urbana Landscape Recycling Center and its available services

– Sewer back-up assistance from the City of Urbana

– Carle Hospital expansion plans

– 5 Points development at Cunningham/University

– Plan for Weaver Park

– Beautification plan for North Cunningham Avenue

– Future expansion of bike paths

If you don’t see the topic that you’re looking for, just ask me!  The aforementioned items are just the things that I learned more about yesterday.  Over the years, I’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge about the local area.  It was great to have an opportunity to get a quick update, though, so that I can have the most recent information for you.

What will $29,950 buy you in Champaign? How about a foreclosed home with a scary shower??

If you have thought about purchasing a foreclosure home because of the allure of getting an amazing deal, remember that in our area, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet a client at one of the least expensive homes available in Champaign right now, a two-story foreclosure with a basement, priced at $29,950 (there are several homes priced even lower).  I was the first to arrive, so I thought I’d go inside and take a look around before meeting my client.  This home is not for most people, so keep this in mind when you look at the photos.  Remember also that this home is less than $30,000, a rare find anywhere. read more and view photos

Hardee’s ‘Making it Happen’ Tour comes to Champaign!

I like Hardee’s. I’m especially fond of their biscuits, so I come to Hardee’s for breakfast quite often (a few times a week). A few weeks ago, the manager on duty extended an invitation to me to come to Hardee’s on Monday, August 17th, to partake in their 2nd Annual “Making it Happen” tour. Today was the last day of the tour, which visited the last 8 of 66 Hardee’s restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. At each location, the tour donated money to hometown charity groups, organizations and individuals. This year, a total of $25,000 was given to individuals and small groups where it has the most direct impact on lives, enabling them to continue ‘making it happen’. read more and view photo

Avoiding Real Estate Pitfalls Prior to Closing

Whether you are considering selling or buying your home, it is common to go through times of stress and through times of joy.  Regardless of how stressful things may be, when a home goes pending (a contract has been accepted), it is fair to expect that things will go normally, and in complete accordance with the dates and criteria set forth in the contract.  After all, when everything is written out in black and white, there is no room for mistakes, right? Continue reading Avoiding Real Estate Pitfalls Prior to Closing

How does “Days On Market” affect the selling price of a home?

Some of my buyers are in no hurry to purchase their home. They say something like, "We are willing to wait until a great deal comes along", or "The sellers will get desperate to sell after the home has been on the market for a long time". What does "a long time" mean? Until now, the answer to this question has been some agent’s made-up statistic or vague answer. Continue reading How does “Days On Market” affect the selling price of a home?

Details about the 2009 Economic Stimulus Package’s real estate tax credit

After plenty of rumors and speculation, the details of the government’s economic stimulus package have finally been released.  I have read the real estate portion, and would like to give you a summary. There is now an $8,000 tax credit (or 10% of the sale price, whichever is less) for first-time homebuyers.  You might have heard about the $7,500 tax credit, which is basically an interest-free loan paid back over 15 years at $500 per year.  That credit still applies if you purchased your home between April 9 and December 31, 2008. This new $8,000 tax credit is for home purchases between January 1, and December 1, 2009, and you do not have to pay any of it back (yourself, individually… all of us ultimately will have to pay back the entire $787B… the housing portion is $6.638B).

To qualify for the $8,000 credit, you must meet ALL of the following criteria: Continue reading Details about the 2009 Economic Stimulus Package’s real estate tax credit

A brief overview on Savoy real estate trends

Existing homes overall are currently taking longer to sell than they used to, but the average selling price has gone up an average of 7.4% since 2005/2006Not bad, considering the widespread belief that 2005/2006 was the “peak” of the housing market.

It is a slightly different story for new construction homes, though. Continue reading A brief overview on Savoy real estate trends