Abandoned and scheduled for demolition, the former Urbana Local Intermediate school on state Route 54 isn’t finished as a venue for learning.
“Having the ability to use an existing building is excellent practice and allows for real world experience for the fire division,” Urbana Fire Chief Dean Ortlieb said Friday, adding the division has been practicing forcible entry on interior doors and various wall breaching techniques at the former school. He said firefighters will practice search and rescue, as well as hose movement in open areas.
“Just prior to demolition, crews will have the opportunity to return to the school and practice on breaching the various exterior doors of the building,” Ortlieb said. “The fire division is extremely grateful for the opportunity to train and thanked the Fillmore Construction demolition crews along with Urbana City Schools for allowing the training to take place.”
Urbana’s former East Elementary on East Lawn Avenue is in the demolition process. The Urbana board of education contracted with Midwest Environmental Inc. for abatement of both structures.
Urbana students in PreK-8th grade now attend the new school on South U.S. Route 68 in Urbana.
The fate appears to be brighter for the now vacant North and South elementaries. Rather than being demolished, plans are to transform the two structures, located on North Russell Street and South Main Street, respectively, into senior housing.
Representatives of Flaherty & Collins Properties have been working with the city of Urbana and the Champaign Economic Partnership to develop Legacy Place, a proposed 51 units of senior housing that would occupy the former North and South elementary schools as well as the Douglas Inn on Monument Square. Local officials have been working with architect McCall Sharp Architecture, Springfield, and hope construction will start this summer.