Downtown Champaign recently welcomed its first hotel in over 20 years, as the three-plus year Hyatt Place project comes to an end.
Hyatt Place Champaign is located at the southwest corner of Church and Neil Streets-the former location of the Metropolitan Building that burned down in 2008. The Hyatt Place will be the first hotel in downtown Champaign since the State Street Hotel-a former Howard Johnsons-closed in the early 1990s.
The city of Champaign speculates a surge of other businesses to the downtown area thanks to the new hotel, with an emphasis in service businesses catering to hotel guests.
"I do believe that the hotel will trigger more business growth in downtown," said Bruce Knight, planning and development director for Champaign.
Among the speculated service businesses moving into downtown are an array of restaurants and bars. There are already plans for a second Maize Mexican Grill, a second Black Dog Smoke & Ale and a new bar at 34 E. Main Street.
"I also think that having a quality hotel in downtown strengthens its ability to attract corporate headquarters," said Knight. "There has been talk about another hotel in downtown, although nothing specific to this point in time."
Hans Grotelueschen, of YG Financial Group, acquired the Metropolitan Building after the 2008 fire. Grotelueschen, manager of YG Hotel Investors, disclosed in September of 2011 that a consulting firm had conducted a study for a hotel on that corner.
In February of 2012, the city of Champaign developed an incentive package for the hotel project including up to $3 million in tax rebates. The following May, Grotelueschen applied for branding of the hotel as a Hyatt Place, a select-service brand for families and business travelers. The demolition of a building at 115 W. Church Street began in July, and in June 2013 First Hospitality Group based out of Rosemount was selected to manage the hotel.
The nine-story hotel features parking on floors two through four and guest rooms on floors five through nine. Among the guest rooms are 80 rooms with king beds, 60 rooms with two queen beds and five suites with king beds. A swimming pool and meeting rooms are located on the lower level, while the front desk, Gallery Kitchen and Grab n’ Go Café are located on the first floor.
One of the first groups to meet at the hotel will be the Champaign Center Partnership who has scheduled their annual meeting there. Erin Lippitz, the group’s executive director, expects to elect officers for the fiscal year and welcome new board members at the meeting. Lippitz also anticipates a turn-out of around 50 to 70 people; the staff of Hyatt Place Champaign has offered to give tours at the end of the group’s formal presentation as well.
"We have chosen them because it’s a great location and they’ve been super involved," said Lippitz. "They’ve been good about integrating into the area and working with local businesses."
According to the hotel’s website, rates range from $159 to $318 depending on the night and the room.