Champaign city council approves proposal changing the way developers build buildings

Champaign city council approved a proposal that'll change the way developers build new apartments in several neighborhoods. (WCCU)

Champaign city council has approved a proposal that will change the way developers build new apartments in several neighborhoods after residents expressed concerns about the new buildings' size and design.

"They don't look anything like the existing buildings in the neighborhood,” resident Todd Satterthwaite said about the new buildings.

Satterthwaite who lives on Elm Street is just one of the several residents who approached Champaign's planning and development department with the concern.

"A lot of times the houses are over a hundred years old and so to have a campus-style apartment among all these older homes just doesn't fit in,” Satterthwaite said. “It takes away from the character of our neighborhood.”

That includes the three recently built buildings -- 509 South Elm Street, 408 South Prairie and 213 West Green -- all of them near the University of Illinois campus and downtown Champaign.

"When you compare them next to lower density single-family homes they can sometimes seem out of character and not match in design,” assistant director of Champaign’s planning and development department, Rod Kowalski said. “These changes will make sure that buildings are appropriately sized to match other buildings in the district.”

The current city rule allows developers to build bigger buildings if they have more land, but the proposed changes would prevent oversized buildings in the district.

"And also that a certain amount of the buildings being windows and that the windows be designed a certain way so they have more of a classic look and fit in better with the neighborhood,” Kowalski said.

Designs of new buildings would also require certain materials used such as brick or wood.

"So that it does add to the character of the neighborhood rather than detracting from the character of the neighborhood,” Kowalski said.

Champaign city council will discuss adopting the city's new zoning ordinance in September.

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