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More details emerge on Shelbourne Apartments redevelopment in Normal

Mike Mapes (l) and DJ Powell (r) plan a renovation and development of the moribund 26 acre Shelbourne Apartments complex in Normal.
Charlie Schlenker
Mike Mapes, left, and DJ Powell plan a renovation and development of the moribund 26-acre Shelbourne Apartments complex in Normal.

Developers DJ Powell and Mike Mapes of 300 Spot Holding LLC said in a WGLT interview they plan duplexes and assisted living units for seniors on undeveloped land at Shelbourne Drive and Linden Street in Normal.

Illinois State University has sold the 26 acres to Mapes of Peoria and Powell of Bloomington-Normal for just over $1 million.

Initially, the two said they will redevelop the 101-unit apartment complex mothballed by ISU. But two-thirds of the property is green space, according to town estimates. Powell said the connected housing on the rest would fill a need in the community.

"On the north and east corners of the property, we are looking to do a zero lot line duplex layout. This has not been approved by the Town of Normal yet, but this is what we're working towards," said Mapes.

They hope to build about 20 duplexes. On the west side, they want to build 24 units of assisted living for retirees.

Mapes said the existing 101 apartment units will take up to two years to renovate and bring back into service. The new construction could take three to five years after that. Mapes said the project will create economic activity in the community.

"We are working with local contractors for all our work, working with different roofing crews and asphalt companies and such. We don't have a specific number of people it will employ, but it will be a fairly large project and there are several companies involved," said Mapes.

The two said they don't have a dollar estimate for the project because construction costs will likely change a lot over the next five to eight years. The Shelbourne Apartments are not in a TIF district and so are not eligible for some development incentives. Mapes said they are working with Ameren to gain energy conservation grants in the renovation of the existing apartments.

ISU leaders have said the apartments are not in great shape, one of the reasons the university determined the complex once used for graduate student and family housing no longer fit in the institution’s strategic plan. Mapes and Powell said, however, the renovation project is not insurmountable.

“There was a test done some time back and there's a .09% amount of asbestos in the materials that are in the flooring, and we will have to mitigate that accordingly. For the most part, those units are in fairly good shape for their age,” said Mapes.

Powell said initially the apartments would be mid-range to upscale in terms of price. In the interview he enlarged on that.

“We're working with a property management company here in town. We're shooting around the $900-$1,000 range, per month, but we're going to work with a couple different property management companies and get their opinion and see what the best options are,” he said.

The partners said they have not decided whether to rent the duplexes or sell them. The value of the new construction is not firm, they said, because prices of construction materials are rapidly changing and the project will take some time.

“We're working with the engineers and architects at this time,” said Powell. “We hope to give back to the community and make it a viable asset for the community.”

“I've been doing real estate investing for seven years. And it's rare to get an opportunity like this. It's even more rare to get an opportunity like this in your own backyard,” said Mapes.

Mapes said they have not done a project on this scale, but he has owned a construction company for 20 years and done several rehabs and fixes.

“So this is just 100 flips,” he said.

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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