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ISU picks buyer for Shelbourne Apartments

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Over the summer, Illinois State University 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.

Illinois State University has chosen a buyer for a prime piece of real estate in Normal. University president Terri Goss Kinzy said ISU received four proposals for the de-commissioned Shelbourne Apartments off Linden Street and is working with the high bidder.

In July, the university chose to sell the parcel that formerly was used for graduate student and family housing. ISU said the land no longer fit its strategic needs

Goss Kinzy said the name of the developer is not yet public

"The issue, of course, is that is not currently zoned for housing. It's zoned for university use. So, we are working very closely with the Town of Normal to make sure that everything is in place before we finish an agreement," said Goss Kinzy.

The zoning designation is currently S-1, said town planner Mercy Davison.

"Non-university use of land would require a different type of zoning. And that could be most likely some type of residential, maybe a mixture of types of residential zoning would be the most likely zoning for the future," said Davison.

Goss Kinzy said ISU is working on a proposal with the bidder for residential housing, noting the community has had increased demand for housing because of business expansions in the last year.

"I would be very proud for the university to contribute to helping with the housing that's needed. We're seeing wonderful investments by corporations in our community and I'm a huge fan of that, so I would be glad if we were part of that solution," she said.

The parcel is surrounded by residential housing, though there is a church to the west that has a special use permit for that purpose. There is a lot of green space on the 26-acre property.

"Based on the aerial map, I would estimate its about a third developed with the existing apartment complex," said Davison.

Town executives and Mayor Chris Koos said earlier this year they believed the property should be redeveloped to become more than just another standard suburban style subdivision. Although the sale is a university-driven process, Davison said the town has been able to communicate that to interested parties.

"As we have been asked questions about the property, we have consistently told people we have a comprehensive plan and it shows residential. And the comprehensive plan talks a lot about needing more diverse types of housing at diverse price points and styles. So, none of that should be a surprise to anyone," said Davison.

Any new owner would have to seek a zoning map amendment and go through the planning commission with eventual approval by the town council.

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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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