Champaign officials: Proposed boutique hotel will fill niche

Champaign officials: Proposed boutique hotel will fill niche

CHAMPAIGN — Is there a market in downtown Champaign for two hotels within a minute's walking distance of each other?

Yes, insist city officials, particularly one with cheaper rates and scaled-down room sizes than what travelers might be used to experiencing at traditional hotels.

Introducing Hotel Vib, a proposed boutique hotel for the empty lot at 401 N. Neil St. Champaign City Council members approved the proposed project this week, two-and-a-half years after the nine-story, 145-room Hyatt Place Hotel opened down the street at 217 N. Neil.

"There's a lot of interest for visitors to stay in urban hotels located in the downtown or center of the community," said Rob Kowalski, Champaign's planning and development director. "That's the market niche that the developers are trying to capitalize on."

Making their pitch all the more attractive, developers Dave Mastio and Chris Keller requested no financial incentives for the project and no expenditures by the city.

The next step is for Mastio, Keller and city staff to draw up an agreement with Best Western to build Hotel Vib, which they say will target a particular type of traveler — the millennial.

"Hotel Vib has been designed around focus groups that included millennials and addressed what they're looking for: smaller rooms and more money spent on the first-floor area to draw the consumers in," Mastio said.

"All the hotel brands seem to be doing this now," he said, including Hilton, which unveiled a similar line of smaller boutique hotels called Tru.

Jayne DeLuce, president and CEO of Visit Champaign County, said the city will use Vib to "complement our different markets."

"The millennial traveler is not concerned with where they're staying but what they're doing," DeLuce said. "We've made downtown a destination, and we're creating a market for them to extend their stay."

On some big-event weekends, with football games or festivals, Hyatt Place sells out, DeLuce said.

When that happens and weekend visitors want to enjoy downtown's nightlife, their only option is to catch a ride to a hotel outside of the downtown district.

Adding another hotel — and leasing to it unused spaces in the Hill Street Parking Deck — would provide another option.

"We want to be providing the visitor experience," DeLuce said. "Not just a pass-through."

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rsp wrote on December 02, 2016 at 8:12 am

What happened to that other plan to redevelop the whole block on the other side with the convention center and everything else that was talked about? Is it off  the table now? Or will that area support three hotels?

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