Urbana approves fraternity’s design for new house

By Crystal Kang

The University’s Nabor House fraternity received Urbana City Council approval Monday night to move forward with its plan to relocate and become more sustainable.

Michael Kinate, vice president of Nabor House, said the fraternity plans to relocate to a vacant property at 805 W. Iowa St., which will provide green space to install a rain garden and a parking lot.

“We needed to build a new fraternity house to maintain our liability,” Kinate said. “We want to have a modern facility that’s energy efficient and green but also looks like it’s been there for a long time.”

The rain garden will serve as drainage and separate the fraternity from neighboring houses.

Kinate said the new fraternity house bolstered community involvement. The fraternity collaborated with Ward 1 Alderman Charlie Smyth, the community development staff and leaders of the West Urbana Neighborhood Association.

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“The (fraternity’s) first design was roundly rejected by the neighborhood,” Smyth said. “They went back to the drawing board and put together something that’s acceptable.”

Architect Gary Olsen from Olsen and Associates said that the design team will work with the Lincoln-Busey corridor committee and undergo design review in April.

“We’re the first team to work with the corridor design committee,” Olsen said. “We did change our site plan with Charlie Smyth’s help.”

The new building will have an elevator for handicap accessibility, temperature-conditioned spaces and a complete fire alarm system.

“At the architectural firm, many green buildings are heated through geothermal (methods),” Olsen said. “We’d like to have 17 wells on this site. We’re considering some solar panels on the south facade.”

Kinate added that the final application will be submitted for approval to the plan commission and City Council within the next few months.

Also Monday night, the Urbana City Council unanimously approved the ordinances that would annex the properties at 1701 E. Perkins Road and 2303 E. Main St. to Urbana.

Under the provisions, the territory on Perkins Road will belong to Urbana’s Agriculture District, and the land located on Main Street will be converted to Urbana’s single- and two-family residential area. Champaign County previously held jurisdiction over the properties.