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Monday, Feb. 25, 2019 12:36 pm

Y block on the block

No bids received for downtown property

How much is the Y block worth? Nothing, apparently.

The downtown Springfield property next to the governor’s mansion for which the city paid $1.5 million in 2014 appeared on the city’s list of surplus properties up for sale that was distributed last month by the purchasing department in the city’s Office of Budget and Management. As with a plethora of vacant lots scattered throughout the city, the minimum bid was $500.

No bids for the Y block were received when bidding closed last Thursday, even though state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has proposed spending $50 million in state money to build a Southern Illinois University campus – think law school -- on the land that was once home to a YWCA that was demolished a few years ago. 

When the city acquired the property in 2014, then Mayor Mike Houston called it “the most developable block” in the capital city. “It’s a blank canvas, an open slate for us to do something unique,” said then Ward 6 Ald. Cory Jobe. “I think it’s the most important block since the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was built.”

The private sector, however, hasn’t jumped. After talk of open slates, there was talk of apartments. And talk of shops. And talk of a park. But no bids when the city put the land up for sale in the auction that ended last week.

Bill McCarty, city budget director, was surprised to learn that the Y block was on the auction block. “Nobody told me we were selling the Y block,” McCarty said. The property’s appearance on the list of vacant parcels up for auction was a mistake, he said. McCarty noted that the city retained the right to reject any bids, and so it’s not like someone could have bought the Y block for $500. “We had the right to reject bids, and we would have,” McCarty said.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.


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