News Local/State

City Council To Discuss $200 Million Downtown Project Including Hotel, Hockey

The Illinois Terminal building in downtown Chamaign.

The Illinois Terminal building in downtown Champaign would be expanded as part of The Yards, a $200 million development proposal, that would also include a hotel and conference center and a University of Illinois complex for hockey and other sports. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

The Champaign City Council will consider the next step at its Tuesday night study session for The Yards, a proposed $200 million development for downtown.

Champaign Planning and Development Director Bruce Knight says The Yards would bring a second hotel into the downtown area, a University of Illinois sports complex with an arena for a proposed Division One hockey team, and the expansion of the Illinois Terminal building to serve more bus and train travelers.

Knight says all of this would benefit downtown Champaign’s existing businesses, especially its 44 bars and restaurants.

“We know from studies that have been done that up to as much as 50 percent of (bar and restaurant) sales are generated by the hospitality industry, by visitors and tourists to our community”, said Knight.

Knight says The Yards would be built in the South Downtown area, on land on the west side of the Canadian National railroad tracks, reaching from the current Illinois Terminal building on University Avenue, southwards to Springfield Avenue. He says the land in question is currently occupied by parking lots and vacant buildings.

“I think everything that was an existing business has relocated already”, said Knight. “Looking at primarily Rogards and Goodyear and some of those properties. Those people either have relocated, or are in the process of doing so already.”

Rogards, a local office supply store, closed its downtown Champaign location on South Walnut Street last week, and reopened at a site on Boardwalk Drive in the North Prospect shopping district. The Goodyear tire store, also known as Champaign True Tires, was also located on South Walnut. It has moved to a nearby address on South Neil Street.

The 7 PM study session at the Champaign City Building will also be attended by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District Board, which is involved because of the Illinois Terminal building.  The study session is expected to pave the way for agreements between the city and the mass transit district, and an agreement with the Chicago-based developer Core Spaces, which is headed up by several University of Illinois alumni.

CORRECTION: This article previously misidentified  the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District as the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District. --- JM 9/11/18