Hotel expected to open in February
CHAMPAIGN — Watch for the final five floors of the Hyatt Place hotel to go up over the next three months.
"We're scheduled to pour the fifth-floor concrete on Tuesday, then shift construction methods to steel stud walls," said Hans Grotelueschen, manager of YG Hotel Investors, the company that owns the hotel.
"We'll do a floor of rooms every two to three weeks," he said, noting that all nine floors should be up by the end of October.
The hotel is expected to open next February at the southwest corner of Church and Neil streets in downtown Champaign.
Grotelueschen said building costs for the structure are "upwards of $20 million."
DLR Group of Chicago is the project's architect, and English Brothers Co. of Champaign is the general contractor, having replaced the initial general contractor, Pepper Construction.
The project encountered two months of delays last winter when soil at the site turned up a lot of water and sand, Grotelueschen said. That required a redesign of the foundation and piers, and the delays added about $200,000 to the cost, he said.
For Grotelueschen, the trickiest part of the project was "putting all the pieces together for building a giant building in a tight space." It meant constant communication with the architect, hotel consultant, Hyatt chain, city of Champaign, banks and investors, "keeping them happy and on the same page."
The ownership group, YG Hotel Investors, consists of "upwards of 30 individual investors," some local and others from elsewhere, Grotelueschen said.
As manager of the limited liability company, Grotelueschen communicates with them via telephone and email and provides them with quarterly updates.
He said it was helpful to have "partners who had developed giant buildings for a living" — namely, Urbana native Tom Scott of Campus Acquisitions, which developed the high-rise apartment building at 309 E. Green St. in Champaign's Campustown.
Grotelueschen said YG Hotel Investors has a 20-year franchise agreement with Hyatt Place, with opportunities for two five-year extensions.
When asked about the expected life of hotels, he said, "Responsible hotels renovate their rooms and lobbies every five to seven years. If you continue to do that, you can have a viable hotel indefinitely."
Grotelueschen said he figures the occupancy rate for local hotels in "the competitive set" with Hyatt Place is 72 percent. He is projecting an average room rate of $128 a night.
His own business, YG Financial Group, is a tax and business consulting company that was formerly based at 115 W. Church St., C. That building was torn down to make way for the hotel, and the business moved to Blue Line Station at 804 N. Neil St., C.
The office, which employs about 30, has occupied part of the east end of Blue Line Station. But it will soon expand into offices spanning the building's south side, Grotelueschen said.