City and county officials, as well as members of the investment group and management of Cobblestone Hotels, broke ground on Tuesday for the three-story, 54-room hotel planned to be built at 170 state Route 55. Investment committee co-chair Terry Howell said that construction will likely begin on the 10,500-square-foot building by the end of July, with a projected completion date of May 2020.
“If you can use your imagination and look out into the center of this open area and imagine a beautiful, three-story Cobblestone hotel, it’s going to be a wonderful piece of the puzzle that we keep talking about for the continued development of Urbana,” said investment committee co-chair Mike Major. “We’re really excited about that. We have a wonderful group of investors who had the courage to make this possible.”
“This has been a long journey,” said Urbana Mayor Bill Bean. “When I first became mayor we tried to get a hotel in here. We tried all the hotel chains, but Urbana just wasn’t big enough and they kind of turned their nose down at us. In 2016 I was attending a conference over in Columbus and I ran into Janice (Tata, vice president of BriMark Builders, LLC), and I saw this hotel for small to medium size communities, and I thought, wow, I wonder if we could do something … Now here we are, and I really want to thank Marcia (Bailey, economic development director of the Champaign Economic Partnership) and especially all the investors.”
Bean said the hotel will be good for the university, local manufacturers and the community as a whole, which has been losing business from temporary lodgers choosing to stay at hotels in Springfield rather than in Urbana. Major added that Urbana University is considering partnering with the hotel to help students interested in entering the hospitality industry and may create an academic major to reflect that experience.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304