Hotel proposed for Carriage Center

CHAMPAIGN — A Forsyth-based developer is hoping to build a 107-suite extended-stay hotel on part of the Carriage Center property being redeveloped along South Neil Street in Champaign.

Steve Horve plans to put a Home2 Suites by Hilton at the northwest corner of that property. It would be located north of a new Ace Hardware store and County Market supermarket, plans for which were announced last December.

Until recently, the Carriage Center property was home to several auto dealerships. But Ford City Ford-Lincoln recently moved north to a massive new building on West Marketview Drive, and Worden Martin Buick-GMC is expected to move south soon to the former Illini Nissan building in Savoy.

Illini Nissan recently vacated that space for a new building alongside the Ford-Lincoln dealership on Marketview Drive.

Besides becoming home to a hotel, supermarket and hardware store, the 17-acre Carriage Center property would also be occupied by a gas station/convenience store, an automotive-related business and several restaurants.

Franchisees have announced intentions to put a Brixx wood-fired pizza restaurant at the northwest corner of Neil Street and Devonshire Drive.

Plus, two multi-tenant buildings along Neil Street are expected to include several restaurants, said Matt Wavering, director of commercial brokerage for Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty.

Wavering said only two portions of the Carriage Center property are unspoken for at this point. They include a 1-acre outlot on Neil Street immediately north of the Brixx site and a 1.5-acre site, presumably for retail use, north of Ace Hardware and south of the hotel.

Horve is no stranger to the Champaign-Urbana hotel market, having been a partner in the franchise that operates the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton hotels a few blocks north on Neil Street.

He cited several reasons for choosing Carriage Center for his third hotel in Champaign.

"It's on the edge of (the University of Illinois) campus, it's near the technology center (research park) and it's a third of a mile from the other two hotels," Horve said. "Overflow from those can help fill it."

Horve, the president of Horve Hospitality Management, said he's still in talks with Hilton Worldwide but would like to break ground for the four-story hotel in May and open it in March 2015. The hotel, which is projected to employ 20, would have two access points from Neil Street and one from Devonshire Drive.

Home2 Suites is a relatively new brand, launched by Hilton Worldwide in 2009. The company describes it as a "mid-tier" extended-stay concept designed "with the budget-conscious traveler in mind."

Horve said Home2's suites are priced less than Homewood Suites, which he described as Hilton's "upper-tier" extended-stay brand.

Rates at Home2 Suites are expected to be $90 to $110 a night, compared with $120 to $125 a night for Homewood Suites, he said.

Home2 Suites' website shows about 30 locations, predominantly in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and South Central U.S.

But Horve said the chain is developing rapidly, with about 21 open, 21 under construction and another 80 in the pipeline.

This would be the first Illinois location, and Horve said Hilton is eager to have one in central Illinois to show other developers.

According to the chain's website, the suites include a queen-sized sofa sleeper in addition to a bed, flat-screen high-definition TVs, dishwashers and ergonomic work chairs.

The chain serves breakfasts, considers itself "pet-friendly" and offers free Wi-Fi, saline pools and laundry-and-fitness facilities.

In addition to being an owner of the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites in Champaign, Horve owns the DoubleTree by Hilton in Springfield, Homewood Suites in Forsyth and the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel in Decatur.

More rooms in the inn

Here's an overview of recent and planned additions to Champaign-Urbana's hotel inventory:

Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites, Champaign: 99-room Hilton Garden Inn and 98-room Homewood Suites opened in late 2006 and early 2007, respectively, at site of former Chancellor Hotel at Kirby Avenue and Neil Street.

I Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign: 126-room hotel opened at southeast corner of First Street and St. Mary's Road in 2008.

Candlewood Suites, Champaign: 83-room extended stay hotel opened at 1917 Moreland Blvd., C, in December 2010.

Urbana Landmark Hotel, Urbana; 75 of 128 rooms are operational at renovated hotel that opened last year in former Lincoln Hotel/Jumer's Castle Lodge in downtown Urbana.

Residence Inn by Marriott, Champaign: 112-room hotel at northwest corner of Marketview Drive and Moreland Boulevard opened this summer.

Hyatt Place, Champaign: 145-room, nine-story hotel under construction at southwest corner of Church and Neil streets in downtown Champaign is scheduled to open in early 2014.

Marriott TownePlace Suites, Champaign: 108-room extended-stay hotel would be part of apartment/hotel development near northwest corner of Sixth and Green streets in Campustown.

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