CHAMPAIGN – The first phase of The Yards development in downtown Champaign is moving ahead even though the second phase – part of which included a sports arena – is now up in the air.
Moving forward are development plans for acres north of Logan Street, including a 20,000-square-foot addition and remodeling of the Illinois Terminal building at 45 E. University Ave., reworking bus platforms, a parking structure, about 180 apartments and commercial spaces, local officials said Wednesday.
More uncertain is Phase 2, south of Logan, where initial plans called for an arena for a Division I men’s ice hockey program that the University of Illinois said this week it no longer plans to add, plus a hotel, convention center and another parking structure .
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District Managing Director Karl Gnadt said that final design will likely look different without a hockey arena.
“But we are still moving ahead with the Illinois Terminal expansion,” he said.
Gnadt said the MTD is in the process of negotiating a contract for architectural and engineering services that will be brought to its governing board soon.
Design work is expected to take up to 10 months, and “we could be looking at a groundbreaking next year,” he said.
Jane Sullivan, external affairs director for the MTD, said Phase 1 was estimated to cost about $ 70.7 million, though that estimate now dates back to 2019.
The MTD has $ 25 million in federal funding to cover its $ 38 million share of the cost of Phase 1, with the remaining $ 13 million coming from local funds, she said.
Gnadt said the UI’s decision to discontinue pursuit of a men’s hockey program is disappointing.
“It certainly is a different scope for the project,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it won’t be able to have the same degree of impact on downtown and the community, but we still think it’s a good project that will be good for the community and there are still efforts being made with the rest of the community. project. ”
In terms of Phase 2, Gnadt said, “Everything is on the table right now.”
Champaign Planning and Development Director Bruce Knight said the development team is currently focused on getting plans for the area north of Logan to the finish line.
That there will no longer be a need for a hockey arena is a fairly recent development, Knight said, “and we haven’t had a chance to really sit down and talk it through with the development team.”
How important the arena was to other pieces of The Yards development is a question Knight said he can’t answer now.
“I think it certainly changes the dynamic and creates a need to reassess what is feasible there now,” he said.
The Yards was first rolled out in 2019 as an 11-acre public / private partnership development expected to transform the area around the Illinois Terminal at the east edge of downtown Champaign.
While the project has been stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MTD has continued to take steps forward.
Earlier this year, the MTD and its private-sector development partner, Core Champaign Hockey, issued a request for qualifications seeking firms to provide architectural and engineering services for Phase 1.