Urbana council approves revised downtown hotel agreement

Urbana council approves revised downtown hotel agreement

URBANA – City officials hope to have the historic Lincoln Hotel open by the end of the year after council members on Monday night gave final approval to a revised agreement with its owner.

The new agreement makes $400,000 in reimbursements for renovations available to owner Xiao Jin Yuan prior to the hotel’s opening. Under the old agreement, that money would not have been available until after Yuan opened the hotel’s doors for business.

The city has already reimbursed Yuan for $650,000 worth of renovations since he bought the property in 2010. City officials had hoped the hotel would have opened by November 2011, but delays pushed the expected opening back to late this summer.

The total $1.05 million is classified as a loan until Yuan operates the Lincoln Hotel as a hotel for two years. At that point, his debt would be forgiven.

After he opens the hotel, another $400,000 would be available for continuing renovations.

The money is coming out of a special taxing district fund that reserves some property tax dollars for infrastructure improvements.

Council members had no arguments on Monday night, and Alderwoman Diane Marlin, D-Ward 7, compared the project to planned improvements to the Boneyard Creek and upgrades that likely will be coming to Main Street.

“All of this is going to help contribute to increased activity and increased numbers of people downtown,” Marlin said.

In other business, the city council approved of Mayor Laurel Prussing’s $58.4 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget contains few changes from the previous year.