More Improvements for Green St.

It’s been 13 months since I left Champaign, IL for greener pastures (Okay, so Muncie, IN isn’t greener) and its no longer the quaint little college town I left behind. Alright, actually its very much the same middle of America college town, but there are some big things happening.

First, the Daily Illini reported today that Green St. between 4th and 1st streets will undergo the same transformation Green St. between 4th and Wright streets did in 2002. Prior to 2002 Green St. was nothing to write home about, but thanks to a $7 million re-invention and beautification the stretch between 4th and Wright streets has become a bustling center with a great mix of local and national chains. The new plan which will cost $6.6 million will start in 2010 and be completed by 2011.

Having lived near the corner of 1st and Green St. my junior year, I know how uninviting that section of Green St. is. It’s not dismal but definitely not as pleasant to walk down as the rest of the street. The renovated portion has a great street wall proportioned to the human scale, which is lacking west of 4th St. If the plan can close some of the gaps and make Green St. inviting the entire length, it will successfully connect to the rest of Champaign proper. This is a great idea.

There are also some new buildings going up on Green St. And both seem like questionable moves for their location. The one I’m most concerned about is at 309 E. Green St. While maintaining the street wall, the buildings towering height makes it out of context, to say the least. At 256 feet, the building will have commercial/retail on the ground floor, followed by a 6-story parking garage housing 219 spaces and then 110 apartment units. The building is being built directly north of Champaign’s current tallest structure, The Tower at Third. It is supposed to be ready by this fall. Check out construction photos here.

There is also a building going up at 507 E. Green St. At seven stories, this building is closer to fitting in, but still a little tall for its location. It will house an Urban Outfitters on the first two floors with University offices occupying the remainder of the building. Check out construction photos here.

And finally, north of Green St. at 4th and Springfield there is Burnham 310. Along with a combination of apartments and condominiums the first floor will be a County Market grocery store. Being north of Green St., Burnham 310 is extending the traditional boundary of campus and blurring the line between town and gown. Check out construction photos here.

(Thanks to Dan O’Brien and his website gct13.com for the great pictures. Be sure to check out the rest of his pictures from in and around Champaign, they are stunning.)

With the second Green St. beautification plan and continuous building projects in Campustown at UIUC, it makes me wonder why Ball St. and Muncie cannot achieve the same with The Village and University Avenue? If Ball State is serious about revitalizing the commercial area around campus it should look to UIUC as a perfect example.

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