URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — City leaders have faced dozens of dead ends, but now there’s some real, concrete hope for the Historic Landmark Hotel.
“This is the most significant renovation to this project in 40 years,” said Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin.
The hotel has been closed since 2015, but there’s hope it could re-open in the next few years. Renovations could start as soon as next year.
Last night, the committee of the whole voted to recommend the full council approve the city’s portion of this deal. The whole project is about $17 million.
“I believe it is the first step in a transformation of the entire Lincoln Square site,” said Marlin.
Funds for the city’s portion of the redevelopment won’t be coming out of taxpayer’s pockets. The city will pay for it through bonds. They expect revenue made through the hotel to cover those payments.
“Once the bond is retired, projected revenues are expected to be in the ballpark of $900,000 a year,” said Marlin.
Nearby business owners also hope that the hotel redevelopment will also generate more foot traffic around their storefronts.
“I think it’s great. I mean, it’s a great business opportunity for all of downtown Urbana,” said Bohemia owner Milea Hayes. “It would be nice to have more people, more traffic, and also be something that sets Urbana apart from downtown Champaign as being unique.”
The hotel is in alderman Dennis Roberts’ ward. He’s excited about the promising future, but hopes the building’s history won’t get lost in the midst.
“My concern is that the design they do for the exterior will be in harmony with the older wing and not become modernized in a way that looks like it’s a separate building. We appreciate the fact that there’s a lot of construction work that will probably have to be done on the facade, but if you look on the one side there that has all the wood stripped away from it, it becomes completely boring. It doesn’t… you know, just becomes a white box. So I’ve actually suggested some ideas about how they could incorporate some of what’s is existing to the building as we see it here in the older section,” said 5th Ward Alderman Dennis Roberts.
Overall, everyone is optimistic this developer will be the last.
“I think they were charmed by this city and by the community, and they recognize the potential of this project,” said Marlin.
The developers, Marksons Associates LLC., will continue working for the next few months with the current owners on the project. They have to abide by some strict guidelines because it’s on the national register of historic places.
The city council will vote on approving the $5.5 million next week. Mayor Marlin says the last phase of the M-CORE project will also help that area of downtown.
It will rebuild Green Street from Lincoln to Race Street. That will bring people straight to the doorstep of the Landmark Hotel.