Inman should be ready for residents by July 1
CHAMPAIGN — Renovation work is well under way at the Inman Place senior living center in downtown Champaign, and managers say residents should be able to start moving in about July 1.
The first phase of the renovation project is expected to be complete in 60 days, with the second phase expected to extend 90 days beyond that.
When complete, the six-story building in downtown Champaign will have 64 studio and one-bedroom units, according to Michael Stein of Hunter Management, consultant for the project.
A grand opening is planned once the first phase is over, and some units should be ready for occupancy by July 1, said Denise Fulton, personnel and marketing director for Inman Place.
Rents are expected to range from $2,300 to $2,900 a month, and that will cover three meals a day, all utilities including telephone, cable and Internet, weekly housekeeping and laundry service, and van transit, Stein said.
Plus, the center is offering $500-a-month discounts for those who pre-lease units during construction, Fulton said.
The building at 17 E. University Ave., C, was built in 1914 and operated as the Inman Hotel from 1915 to 1974. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, it served as the home of the National Academy of the Arts, and in 1991, it returned to service as Inman Plaza, a senior living center.
The facility was acquired in 2010 by Lincolnwood-based Brickyard Bank after the bank filed a foreclosure complaint against the previous owners — Avigdor and Ahuva Horowitz, Inman Plaza Inc. and Champaign Plaza LLC.
Last year, the bank proceeded with the renovation, which Stein said will cost "well over $3 million."
Some residents elected to remain during renovation, but they had to move due to noise and construction activity, Stein said. A few are staying at a hotel, and others have made arrangements to live elsewhere, he said.
The first phase of the renovation involves the first floor, including the lobby, dining room and Crystal Room, plus the completion of 25 residential units on the building's west side.
The second phase will include renovation of the basement and 39 units on the building's east side, Stein said. The basement will house a hair salon, laundry facilities and an exercise room, among other things.
Stein said the renovation includes restoring decorative plaster work and pillars. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the project made use of historic renovation bonds, he said.
"It's really been a labor of love," he added.
Floor plans for the residential units — shown at the Inman's website, http://www.inmanplace.com — bear the names of early 20th-century presidents.
Three studio-apartment arrangements are named for Taft, Wilson and Coolidge, and two separate-bedroom arrangements bear the names of Hoover and Roosevelt.
The Roosevelt Room, a second-story room at the corner of University Avenue and Walnut Street, is named for first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who was once a guest there, Fulton said.
That same room originally served as the personal apartment of George Inman, the hotel's founder, she added.
Rooms on the building's exterior have views of downtown Champaign. Each unit has its own temperature controls.
Most of the residential rooms had to be gutted to make them more serviceable for senior residents. Stein said the previous renovation, in 1991, wasn't suitable for seniors because some bathrooms required people to take a step up.
Stein said Inman Place is planning "a premier dining experience" for its residents.
Ric Ruggieri, former owner of the Outer Banks restaurant in Pesotum, has been hired as the Inman's food services director. Ruggieri also served as an executive chef with University of Illinois Dining Services.
The Crystal Room, which looks out onto University Avenue, will be used for overflow dining, dancing, activities and perhaps some public meals, Stein said. Like the lobby and dining room, the Crystal Room features 14-foot ceilings and pillars.
Stein said the downtown Champaign location should be a drawing card for Inman Place.
"All our competitors are in suburban, almost rural, settings," Stein said. "They're lovely locations, but most residents in our business have stopped driving and don't want to live in locations that are isolated. Here, if you want to go for a walk, you can go to a cafe yourself, even if you're on a walker."
Plus, "if you want to get a train or take a bus, it's right here," Fulton said, noting the proximity of the Illinois Terminal.
Stein said Inman Place plans to have a home health care company on-site to provide assisted-living services for those who want them.
People can also hire their own home health provider to assist them with bathing, dressing and medications if they choose.
Jeremy Lew and Associates of Northbrook is architect and construction manager for the renovation project. Most contractors for the project have been local, Stein said.
Carolyn Crawford is the manager of Inman Place. The senior center expects to hire 10 to 20 people for its housekeeping, maintenance, kitchen and wait staff, probably in about two months, Fulton said.