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Thursday, March 28, 2019 12:01 am

Why do they call it Bluffstone?

Remember four years ago, when proponents of a downtown apartment complex came here from Iowa, asking the city for tax increment financing money to subsidize a 70-unit apartment complex at Fourth and Madison streets? Business types, downtown boosters and University of Illinois Springfield officials lauded the idea: This would be a great deal for everyone. Downtown needs housing, they said, and graduate students in particular are in need of places to live. Bluffstone, the company that sought a $700,000 subsidy, had a track record of building apartments for students elsewhere. But the city council balked in the face of opposition from unions that warned the apartments would be modular construction, with prefab parts trucked in and set up with little opportunity for local workers to land jobs. Rather than grant a subsidy, aldermen rezoned land, and the apartments ultimately were built with no public subsidy. But property taxes went unpaid last year and so were auctioned last fall, with a New Orleans limited liability corporation buying them. The total owed is $99,740. Bluffstone officials could not be reached for comment.

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