Hotel could be under new ownership

landmark hotel

Latest: 10:51 pm, 3/6/17, Monday 

URBANA — City leaders don’t all agree on what should happen to the Landmark Hotel.

The city says the developer is negotiating with Hilton. The mayor calls it a good plan, but other council members say they’re skeptical.

There is no guarantee the Landmark will become a Hilton hotel. The city says the property needs “extreme renovation.” Staff say it’s only feasible if the city chips in almost $10 million to get it done.

Some call the hotel an eyesore. The mayor calls it an opportunity.  

“They know what they’re doing, so I think it’s a really good thing for the city of Urbana,” says Mayor Laurel Prussing.

Prussing says the city has been missing out on all the hotel-motel tax dollars the property could be providing.

“There’s a real cost of not doing something,” she says.

Alderman Charlie Smyth agrees, saying having the Landmark sit vacant hasn’t been doing anyone any favors. He also points out downtown businesses would like the customers it could draw in.

“We’re losing money having that hotel sit empty,” says Smyth.

Alderman Mike Madigan has a different concern.

“It’s nine and a half million dollars,” says Madigan, “and I want to understand, from the staff, how the return on the city’s investment is going to be accomplished.”

The current plan is for the city to front $9.5 million toward renovation costs. Staff say they’d get that money back through hotel, food and beverage taxes, including a new special “boutique hotel” tax which would apply exclusively to the Landmark.

Madigan wonders if all of that would add up to $9 million, or if tax dollars are even necessary.

“If it’s a project worth pursuing it’d be worth pursuing with private dollars, in my opinion,” says Madigan.

Alderwoman and Democratic mayoral candidate Diane Marlin is worried about something else.

“We certainly haven’t secured a brand for the hotel,” says Marlin, “but people are now left with the impression that we have, and that’s misleading.”

She believes the Hilton announcement was premature, saying the council hasn’t made any decisions about the building yet.

“We really haven’t looked at other options,” says Marlin.

The mayor says the Landmark has no other sensible options.

“The highest and best use for it is as a hotel,” says Prussing.

She and Smyth say, despite the mixed faith of success for the property, there isn’t a proposal to do anything else with it.

“We don’t have a lot of choice here,” says Smyth. “We have to play the hand that’s dealt us. We have somebody come to the table who’s willing to buy the building and do something with it, versus a pie-in-the-sky idea to do something else.”

The city doesn’t own the hotel. The ball is in the developer’s court now. Once they iron out the terms, the council will formally consider it. That’s expected to happen later this month.

If the Hilton deal goes through, the Landmark would be part of a new brand. It would be launched under Hilton’s new Tapestry Collection.

There are seven other hotels in the U.S. which will be a part of it. City staff say it will be about two years before the landmark is reopened, including all 128 rooms, the restaurant, bar, conference center and dining hall.

Update: 4:20 pm, 3/6/17, Monday 

URBANA — After months of planning, the Landmark Hotel will soon be under new ownership.

It will be launched under the Tapestry Collection; a new Hilton Hotel brand. The plans are for $20 million in renovation work, reactivate all 128 rooms, reopen the restaurant, bar, conference center and dining hall.

City officials say it couldn’t be in a better location. There are seven other hotels in the U.S. which will be part of the collection.

It will be about two years before the hotel reopens. 

Original: 6:00 am, 3/6/17, Monday

URBANA — A local hotel could soon be sold to one of the world’s largest hotel companies.

Mayor Laurel Prussing says the Landmark Hotel could soon be purchased by Hilton’s brand, The Tapestry Collection.

A developer working with the mayor says the nearly century-old hotel could also undergo a $20 million renovation. It would fully open all 128 hotel rooms and reopen the restaurant, bar, conference center and dining hall.

An agreement is expected to be presented to the city council later this month.

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