MTD, Grotelueschen Partner On Development Project
Two proposed developments in downtown Champaign have joined together for what would be the largest conference center in Champaign-Urbana.
Developer Hans Grotelueschen has moved his hotel and conference center project a few blocks south from its original proposed location at Washington and Walnut to merge with the planned expansion of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District’s Illinois Terminal.
Grotelueschen says the more he talked with MTD officials, the more it made sense to combine their efforts.
“By having the people come to one central location, you know there’s a bus station and train station already here," Grotelueschen said. "To have it expand and be able to get people in and out of the conference center, hotel, office space, whatever it is, is better served out of one location than spreading the resources over two.”
Grotelueschen says he has reached out to the University of Illinois’ Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, which is conducting a feasibility study on adding Division One Hockey, about including an athletics event center in the project.
A DIA spokesperson declined to comment on the project.
Grotelueschen says the conference center would be able to accommodate up to one thousand people, which is about twice as many as any other conference center in Champaign-Urbana.
C-U MTD Managing Director Karl Gnadt said after a series of conversations with Grotelueschen they came to the same conclusion.
“Let’s combine it. Let’s make one project," Gnadt said. "Pour everybody’s resources into one really nice project for downtown Champaign, and have a ‘wow factor’ kind of project.”
Gnadt says the current Illinois Terminal is at full capacity, both in terms of transportation and in available leased space, and the new project would increase transportation capacity by about 50-percent.
Grotelueschen has previously developed the Hyatt Place Hotel in downtown Champaign, which has been open for just more than three years.
The project is in the early stages of development, but current plans call for the use of 8 to 10 acres of land near current Illinois Terminal, loosely bounded by the railroad tracks to the east, University Avenue on the north, Springfield Avenue on the south, and Neil & Walnut Streets to the west.
City of Champaign Planning & Development Director Bruce Knight says by combining the two projects into one, the city can better focus on any needed infrastructure improvements.
"The parking, other kinds of street improvements, perhaps streetscapes that have to be built," Knight said. "But we're still working through the details."
Knight says a new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District approved earlier this year will help to fund it, as tax revenue generated by the project will be invested back into it.
Current plans call for 175-200 hotel rooms, 200 apartment beds, 100,000 square feet of office space, first floor retail space, and parking to support the development.
The Champaign City Council is scheduled to hold a study session on the project on August 22.