Brewpub, bank among tenants in new M2 project

Brewpub, bank among tenants in new M2 project

CHAMPAIGN – A restaurant-brewery and a bank will be among the initial tenants of the M2 on Neil project in downtown Champaign, its developer says.

The Destihl (pronounced "distill") Restaurant & Brew Works plans to open its second "gastropub" on the first floor of M2, to be built at the northwest corner of Church and Neil streets, according to One Main Development.

The restaurant plans to serve steaks, chops, seafood, pizzas, sandwiches, salads and desserts, along with beers, ales and lagers brewed in Destihl's brewery.

"Destihl plans to become one of the few restaurant-distilleries in the country by making distilled spirits on site, along with a wine list to complement their urban cuisine," a release from One Main Development stated.

In addition to food and drink, Destihl expects to offer live jazz, blues and acoustic music and will have outdoor seating. Its beer menu will include year-round "flagship" beers as well as seasonal and limited-reserve cask-aged beers.

Joining Destihl in the new development will be BankChampaign, which already has an office at 2101 S. Neil St., C, and another at 5 Convenience Center Drive, C, near Market Place Mall.

The new branch will face Neil Street. BankChampaign President Dean Clausen said he hopes the office will open in late 2008 or early 2009.

"We're a locally owned and managed organization, we're part of the community, and with the business that's down there and the resurgence of professional and some residential (development in downtown Champaign), we thought it was an appropriate next move for us," he said. "We're happy to be there."

Destihl, founded by Normal resident Matt Potts, expects to open its first location Nov. 19 at the Shoppes at College Hills in Normal.

Potts said opening a second location in Champaign was "a very easy decision" because he and his wife, Lyn, are University of Illinois graduates.

"We wanted our second location to be in fairly close proximity so it would be easy for us to manage," he said. "Champaign is a progressive, growing community, and we really like the plans for developing the downtown area."

"The demographics are great: household incomes, growth, the taste for better quality food and beverages," he said.

Potts said Destihl expects to occupy about 7,400 square feet at the corner of Neil and Church, with frontage along both streets. He said he expects indoor seating capacity to exceed 200.

The Destihl in Normal is expected to employ about 90 when it opens, and it's likely the Champaign location will employ a similar number, he said.

Potts said the interior will show off some of the basics of the building.

"Our concept is more of an metro-industrial type concept, being in the urban center of the city," he said. "We're not afraid of showing more of the industrial structure of the building and showing off the brewery as part of the process."

Potts is the chief executive officer and brewmaster for Destihl and the general partner of Brewpub Holdings. He received a bachelor's degree in agriculture from the UI in 1991. After receiving a law degree from DePaul University, he practiced law for 12 years in Elmwood, a small town west of Peoria.

He started home brewing in 1995, and according to Destihl's Web site, his "passion for craft beer won out over the practice of law." He ended up bidding on an 1896 building in Elmwood and became one of the founding partners and brewmaster of the Elmwood Brewing Co.

Potts was involved in that until September 2005. That same year, he began working on the Destihl project. This year he received an associate degree in brewing technology from the Siebel Institute of Technology/World Brewing Academy in Chicago.

Mike Royse, president of One Main Development, said Destihl will offer something distinctive downtown.

"Destihl is not your typical brewpub," Royse said. "The unique and creative fare will be served in a fun, casual environment. Their craft beer, distilled spirits, unique architecture of the space and the overall incredible atmosphere will be a great addition to the downtown experience."

The nine-story M2 on Neil project will include retail and restaurant space on the first floor, office and commercial space on the second through fifth floors and condominiums on the sixth through ninth floors. One Main Development said Friday that 20 percent of the condominiums have been sold.

The project, which has a price tag of $41 million, is expected to take two years to complete. Steel work is expected to begin in November.

One Main Development previously developed One Main Plaza at the northeast corner of Neil and Main streets in Champaign. The company is also developing a multiuse development in downtown Normal.

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