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Dialogue On Future Of Shelbourne Apartments Property Begins

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Illinois State University has declared the decommissioned 101-unit Shelbourne Apartments surplus to university needs, setting the stage to sell the 26-acre property that is surrounded by residential homes.

Conversations about how to redevelop a prime 26-acre parcel of land in Normal have begun.

Illinois State University last week took the first step toward a sale of the mothballed 101-unit Shelbourne Apartment complex and surrounding park-like property.

"I would say this property presents a great opportunity to see some development there that maybe can meet a housing need, housing demand that we are seeing these days," said Normal City Manager Pam Reece.

Reece said she has received quite a few comments that suggest the land would make a good park. She said the Town of Normal is not interested in buying the land, and staff have not had that conversation with council members.

"The property would have to go through a rezoning process because it is zoned for institutional use. So, we'll have to work with potential redevelopers to determine what makes sense," Reece said.

The land is currently surrounded by residential property. Reece said residential use would make the most sense for the property, noting it is close to the Constitution Trail and multiple schools.

"In my own opinion, I'd like to see maybe not all single-family detached homes because right now there is a lot of interest in housing that is not single-family detached homes. Maybe it becomes duplexes or town homes or maybe it's an assortment," said Reece.

It's possible the town could warn away potential developers who would make it into student apartments.

"I think the ball is going to be in my court and staff's court to start having conversations with the city council on things that maybe should be off the table. Maybe we want to say early on R3 zoning, which is high-density residential, maybe we don't think that is the best use for that site," said Reece.

Reece said staff will have a dialogue with the Normal Town Council about what should or should not happen to the Shelbourne Apartments. She said the town also will provide guidance on that to ISU to share with prospective buyers.

ISU decommissioned the Shelbourne complex in 2017 and has determined the costs of fixing it up or redeveloping it exceed its "strategic value" to the university. It is unclear when the property will officially go up for sale.

After a recent change to the law, ISU can now keep the proceeds of the sale instead of turning them over to the state general fund, as long as the university uses the money for deferred maintenance and emergency repairs.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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