News Local/State

Urbana City Council OK’s Downtown Hotel Redevelopment Deal

Urbana Landmark Hotel entrance from Lincoln Square Mall

Original front entrance to the Urbana Landmark Hotel, as seen from food court at Lincoln Square Mall. Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

The Urbana City Council voted 6-0 Monday night to approve a redevelopment agreement to help finance a Maryland hotel developer’s plan to renovate and reopen the downtown Urbana Landmark Hotel.

Under the agreement, Marksons Affilliates, LLC will have until July 1, 2029, to start work on renovating the 1920s-era hotel, which closed in 2016.

Mayor Diane Marlin is expected to sign the agreement with Marksons later this year. It would provide the developer with $5.5 million towards the project’s budget, which could range from $15.1 million up to $17.8 million.

But Urbana’s Economic Development Manager Brandon Boys told Urbana city council members Monday night that to receive the money, Marksons must completely renovate the Urbana Landmark, retaining its historic elements, offering at least 120 available rooms, plus restaurant and conference space, operating under the boutique Hilton Tapestry brand.

“If they can do all that,” said Boys, “and achieve the brand and the certificate of occupancy, that’s when the city’s funds arrive.” 

Urbana officials are counting on new tax revenue from the hotel to cover the city’s investment.  They’re also counting on a reopened hotel to help revive downtown Urbana.

“We think this is the best solution for this site,” said Mayor Marlin, speaking from Hawaii, where she’s attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. “It’ll revive, renovate and restore an historic property, and mainly activate that site. And I really do see it as the first step in the transformation of the entire Lincoln Square site.”

The Urbana Landmark Hotel, which first opened in 1923, has been attached to Lincoln Square Mall since the 1960’s. The Tudor Revival building was designed by Urbana architect Joseph Royer. Additions were added in the 1980’s, when the building was a Jumer Hotel. The hotel’s current owner put it up for sale in 2015, and closed it in 2016.