News Local/State

Urbana Landmark Hotel To Be Put Up For Auction

The now-closed Urbana Landmark Hotel

The Urbana Landmark Hotel, which has been closed since early 2016. Wikimedia Commons

The shuttered Urbana Landmark Hotel in downtown Urbana is up for auction. And the mayor of Urbana hopes a creative buyer can help transform the entire Lincoln Square area.

Amber Hotel Company, a hotel brokerage firm based in suburban Los Angeles, is offering the Urbana Landmark Hotel in an auction to be conducted December 11-13. The starting bid has been set at $350,000, and the best offer will be accepted.

Mayor Diane Marlin hopes that anyone interested in redeveloping the hotel will also have new ideas for the adjoining Lincoln Square shopping mall, and the city-owned parking lot surrounding the mall.

“We need to be thinking about this site as a whole,” said Marlin. “And whether it means considering more residential, a different mix of retail and commercial, more entertainment-oriented. You can even think about reconnecting the streets, opening up part of the area. I think it’s wide open.”

Marlin says the hotel-mall site in downtown Urbana should be especially attractive to an imaginative developer, because of the MCORE (Multimodal Corridor Enhancement) project, which is reconstructing Green Street in Champaign-Urbana, including a stretch that leads from the University of Illinois campus up to the hotel.

“Green Street will become the main gateway to downtown Urbana from campus,” said Marlin. “And we need to have something wonderful at the end of Green Street to draw people in. And this site is just critically important to our downtown.”

The Urbana Landmark, which opened in 1923 as the Urbana Lincoln Hotel, has had difficulties in recent years. Xiao Jin “XJ” Yuan, who bought the hotel in 2010, closed it last year. Yuan returned incentive money to the city of Urbana after failing to meet terms of a development agreement that required the reopening of the hotel’s restaurant and conference center.

New plans for renovating and reopening the hotel as a Hilton specialty hotel collapsed over the summer, when the Urbana City Council and a developer could not agree on a proposal to issue city bonds to help finance the project.

The Lincoln Square shopping mall, which was built onto the hotel’s original front entrance in 1964, has a different owner than the Urbana Landmark Hotel. Mayor Marlin thinks the mall could be ripe for redevelopment because it will soon lose a major tenant, when Carle’s Health Alliance subsidiary moves its offices out of the mall into its own building at the Curtis Road-I-57 interchange.