CHAMPAIGN — Today's scheduled opening of the Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Champaign marks the culmination of a project that dates back more than three years.
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The 145-room hotel at the southwest corner of Church and Neil streets fills a void created on that site when the Metropolitan Building was destroyed by fire in November 2008.
It's the first hotel to operate in downtown Champaign since the State Street Hotel — a former Howard Johnson's — closed in the early 1990s.
The Hyatt Place could end up attracting other businesses downtown, said Bruce Knight, the city's planning and development director.
"I do believe that the hotel will trigger more business growth in downtown," he said, adding that service businesses catering to hotel guests may be the first to pop up.
Restaurants and bars will be among those, Knight said, citing plans for a second Maize Mexican Grill, a second Black Dog Smoke & Ale and a new bar at 34 E. Main St..
"I also think that having a quality hotel in downtown strengthens its ability to attract corporate headquarters," Knight said. "There has been talk about another hotel in downtown, although nothing specific to this point in time."
The genesis of the Hyatt Place Champaign stems from Hans Grotelueschen of YG Financial Group acquiring the Metropolitan Building site, as well as adjoining sites, following the 2008 fire.
Grotelueschen disclosed in September 2011 that a consulting firm had done a marketing study for a hotel on that corner.
The following February, the city of Champaign came up with an incentive package for the project, involving as much as $3 million in tax rebates. By May 2012, Grotelueschen, the manager of YG Hotel Investors, had applied for branding of the hotel as a Hyatt Place — Hyatt's select-service brand for families and business travelers. In July of that year, demolition of a building at 115 W. Church St. began, clearing the way for construction of the hotel.
By June 2013, Rosemont-based First Hospitality Group had been hired to manage the hotel.
The nine-story hotel has parking on the second through fourth floors and guest rooms on the fifth through ninth floors. The room count includes 80 rooms with king beds, 60 rooms with two queen beds and five suites with king beds.
The swimming pool and meeting rooms are located on the lower level, and the front desk, Gallery Kitchen and Grab n' Go Cafe are all located on the first floor.
General Manager Victor Patterson projected a staff size of 45 to 50 employees.
One of the first groups to meet at the Hyatt Place will be the Champaign Center Partnership, which has scheduled its annual meeting there Wednesday evening.
Erin Lippitz, the group's executive director, said the organization will elect officers for the fiscal year and welcome new board members. She said she expects 50 to 70 people, and Hyatt staff has offered to give tours at the end of the group's formal presentation.
"We've chosen them because it's a great location, and they've been super-involved," she said of Hyatt Place. "They've been good about integrating into the area and working with local businesses."
On Monday, the hotel's website shows an average daily rate of $159 for Tuesday evening. On Friday evening, when the Bloomington Gold Corvette show is in town, the average daily rate ranges from $218 for a king-bed room to $318 for a king-bed suite.
Room to spare
The Hyatt Place ranks fourth among Champaign County hotels in number of guest rooms, according to statistics from Visit Champaign County. The top 10:
Hawthorn Suites, Champaign 198
Holiday Inn, Urbana 198
Quarters Inn and Suites, Rantoul 198
Hyatt Place, Champaign 145
Drury Inn, Champaign 132
Hampton Inn, Urbana 130
Eastland Suites, Urbana 126
I Hotel, Champaign 126
La Quinta Inn, Champaign 122
Value Place, Champaign 121