Displaced Bristol Place residents are beginning their return home after a year away for a neighborhood rebuild.
Bristol Place was once a part of historic Champaign on the north side until it was considered beyond saving by the county, according to sources.
Built in the 1890s, many of the buildings were becoming unlivable and in desperate need of an upgrade.
The site of the old Bristol Place neighborhood on Bradley Avenue and Market Street in Champaign was demolished in March of 2018. The neighborhood was riddled with crime, was a blight that could not be eradicated without rebuilding the area from scratch, the Bristol Park board stated.
City officials considered the area too blighted to restore, and planned the new development with the Champaign County Housing Authority, according to the City of Champaign neighborhood services department.
Affordable Housing Development, AHDVS, is heading the construction of the 64 family houses, 26 townhouses along with a community building and a part of phase one.
Phase two will begin after the initial residents move in, construction will begin on the two senior citizen apartment buildings – estimated to begin in 2021.
Nearly $12 million dollars was spent on this project.
Although there are 90 new homes built, 46 of the new spaces were promised to previously displaced residents, according the City of Champaign planning website.
Public housing officials expected 1,000 slots to fill up quickly on a waiting list for the new subsidized housing project when the list opened for applications on the morning of August 6.
According to Michelle Anderson, a Bristol Place board member, the list filled to 500 within the week. The waiting list was capped at 1,000 slots – which was closed in early September.
“Essentially they went through and they marked the neighborhood houses and found out who were renters and who were owners,” Anderson said. “For the owners, [Champaign County] bought the houses and then they demolished them. If you were a renter you received a voucher to ensure placement in the new neighborhood. They places them, and helped them”
The county swore to take care of the displaced residents, placing them in rental properties throughout the county that allowed their rent to remain close to, or the same, according to Anderson.
Jean Algee, Community Development Specialists, said that the City’s development agreement includes a goal for the developer to award 30% of the construction contracts to qualified local minority, women, disadvantaged and/or veteran business enterprises. This requires the city development team to hire at least 10 new local hires with a preference of the displaced residents as the hires.
Bristol Place’s first tenants are expected to move in before the year is over, with about 30 new Bristol Place residents having the first chance. However, six of the units will be leased at market rates, starting at with available tax credits, apart from the application process for the waiting list, which is for voucher-subsidized units.
“Right now we are making the final decisions on the pricing,” Anderson said. “We are section three and we have some section eight involved so what they will do its pay rent that will be subsidized by five or six different grants.
The residents are leasing through lamoineproperties.com and KMG Prestige who both declined to answer pricing questions without waitlist application approval.
Because the neighborhood is completely being rebuilt from the ground up the families who have been in Bristol Place will be remembered in new street names. The most notable being, Posey, Giboney and Ballard.
Posey and Ballard have had various family members in the neighborhood throughout the years. Ballard also operated a small business, a home-based shoe repair company, for several decades.
Giboney is related to the apostolic church that was founded in Bristol Place located on Bellfontaine Street up until the neighborhood demolition.
Originally the plan was for returning residents to move in by the end of the month, however with some construction delays, the returning residents won’t see the inside of their new homes until mid to late December.
In order to make the application process the companies are primarily looking for single families mostly young to move into these homes.
This neighborhood is looked at as a starting place for young families. As the neighborhood is a fresh start that’s how the selection process of the residence will look as well.
“The main goal is they are looking for single families,” Lamoine Properties said. “They are looking to help them build credit, build equity, buy the houses and live.”
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