CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A $35 million improvement project is coming to Garden Hills in Champaign. The city broke ground on phase two with a celebration for city leaders, community partners, and the neighborhood.

The main purpose of the project is to bring in a new storm water detention basin. However, the city wants to blend that functionality with greenery and activities for people in the area.

Last year, they introduced Hedge POP! Park. It was meant to be a temporary structure until the basin could be built, but the positive response from the community inspired the city to work it into the plans. Now there will be a permanent park surrounding the basin. It will have sidewalks, lights, benches, and playground equipment.

“These children out here, they don’t have a place to really go. When I lived out here, they didn’t have a park, it was just a bunch of houses out here,” said Nichole Fenderson, a neighbor to the area. “They were just riding their bikes up and down the street, running through yards and stuff. This gives these kids something to look forward to, a place to play basketball, where they don’t have to try to cross these streets and go somewhere else and stuff. This is good, this is really good for these children out here.”

There will be a basketball court, reading circle, and play wall. Neighbors said this shows just how much the city cares about the Garden Hills neighborhood. The storm water basin will bring better flood control to the area. Officials said the project is expected to be completed by early 2026.