Developer pitches plans for Landmark Hotel to Urbana council

Developer pitches plans for Landmark Hotel to Urbana council

URBANA — Crimson Rock Capital, the developer which has redeveloped hotels dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, made its case Monday for taking on the 94-year-old Landmark Hotel.

Dionis Rodriguez, Crimson Rock's founder and managing principal, and Bill Walsh, the project's construction manager, pitched to the Urbana City Council their plans to turn Landmark into a Hilton Tapestry boutique hotel.

The redevelopment deal, which is asking Urbana for help to the tune of $9.5 million in bonds issued post-construction, was first made public last week and will be discussed by the council in the coming weeks.

"I think (Landmark) can be restored to a leading three- or four-star hotel," Rodriguez said.

"We really like the history, affiliation with (Abraham) Lincoln, and we'd like to bring back its affiliation with the university (of Illinois). I've heard a lot of students say they never go to Urbana but Champaign and Campustown instead."

Walsh said the hotel's current amount of 128 bedrooms is slated to stay roughly the same. He said the smallest room is 201 square feet with the largest at 493 square feet, which are generally smaller sizes than hotel rooms built today.

"I'm not worried about it," Walsh said, noting that changing the number of rooms available would be too expensive. "What you do is mix up the room types, change the bed sizes, deal with what you've got."

Rodriguez said he strongly prefers doing a complete redevelopment, instead of a fraction of the work, since he wants a revamped Landmark to spur growth and economic activity in downtown Urbana.

"As an investor, we could probably make a lot more money by doing a much smaller renovation," Rodriguez said. "That's not what you guys need, what you're looking for, and not why we're coming to this town. You need to do (a complete redevelopment) for major catalytic change."

Thirteen residents expressed support for changing Landmark, and three shared their cautious support, urging council members to really consider the finances involved and how Crimson Rock is not locally based.

Rodriguez and Walsh said the project totals $19 million, or $146,154 per key. Planning is slated to last 12 months or more, and they said the renovation should take the same amount of time. To help with the cost, they said they'll be pursuing historic tax credits.

"If the city goes for this and provides the bond to the developer, we would have to open the hotel and effectively perform before you guys participate," Rodriguez said to the council.

In addition, Rodriguez and Walsh said the project will include installing a four-pipe HVAC system, converting bathtubs to walk-in showers, modernizing the building's exterior, installing makeup air in the corridors and renovating the lobby, meeting space, restaurant/kitchen and bar/lounge.

Landmark won't be reformed into the standard commercial Hilton, Rodriguez said. Being a part of the Tapestry boutique hotel branch would allow Landmark to maintain its historic aspects.

"There are specific (Hilton) standards, but (Tapestry) gives you more of an artistic license," Rodriguez said. "Hilton will be highly involved they'll make many visits and won't approve until it fits their quality standards."

Walsh said the proposed project manager is New Castle Hotels and Resorts, and the proposed architect is John T. Campo & Associates.

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concernedcitzen wrote on March 14, 2017 at 8:03 am

   "We really like the history, affiliation with (Abraham) Lincoln,"...?!?!?

Huh..??? I didn't know the old guy was still around in November 3, 1923.

Bystander wrote on March 14, 2017 at 8:03 am
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If it can be restored to a 3-star hotel, it would be a longshot. That kitchen probably has bug and mice infestion for years accumulating.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on March 14, 2017 at 8:03 am

I urge all taxpayers/voters/rational residents of Urbana to follow the link have provided here.  It is the ONLY solution.  There are multiple videos after the initial one so please view all of them and pass this link onto as many people as you can.


Campustownie wrote on March 14, 2017 at 9:03 am

This is just criminal to throw any more money at this tired property. The majority of the Hotel was built in the 80s, 1980s, not 1880s, when Jumers did the addition on it. Its not in an attractive location for guests and the group is only doing it because of the huge amount of money the City is willing to kick in. Its frightening to think that this decision is in the hands of this council. The have proven to have zero business acumen. 

JRFoucault wrote on March 14, 2017 at 11:03 am

Maybe the N-G could do a little investigative reporting on this developer--Crimson Rock Capital.

If you search for the company on the web with the hope of finding mention somewhere online--maybe in other local newspapers, trade publications, etc--of other projects that they have undertaken, you will find none. Additionally, Crimson Rock Capital would appear to be a one-man operation: Mr. Dionis Rodriguez, per the information here:

Approximately 2 employees? There are only two people that appear on LinkedIn listing themselves as employees at Crimson Rock Capital: Mr. Rodriguez, and one David S. Ruger, who was with the company for one year, having left in December. This suggests the estimate from is accurate, and Mr. Rodriguez--the CEO and managing principal--is the sole employee.

Crimson Rock Capital office address of 10 Fieldmere Ave in Glen Rock, NJ? A 3 bedroom, 1566 sq ft single family home in a residential neighborhood. What address does a white pages search for Dionis Rodriguez show? The same.

Giving a "private hotel investment firm" $9.5 million to renovate this lost cause is a large enough pill to swallow, but when we reconsider that as the reality of giving $9.5 million to Mr. Dionis Rodriguez, a one-man shop operating out of his house in NJ with no publicly available evidence of him having undertaken such a project's a little more alarming.

Campustownie wrote on March 14, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Sounds about like the last developer that the city tied their hopes to and ended up taking $1.4 million from the city, didn't complete the renovations and then closed shop. Proves once and for all that the city staff and city council should not be making any kind of business related decision for the city. They have absolutely no clue on how businesses work and how to properly research developers. 

Tyronius P HoggLegg wrote on March 14, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Nice research JRFoucault...

I would like you do come and do some research for my company.... Billy Ray's Hillbilly Fun Park....PO BOX 1234, BugTussle, TN. I also am interested in redesigning old hotels. 



Tyronius P HoggLegg

aantulov wrote on March 14, 2017 at 1:03 pm

There is no reason for the city of Urbana to give anyone one dime to develop this property. Upscale is a lie. Upscale is not inclusion. If every room we rented by the month to a , single female pensioner , the rest of the hotel would be solvent enough to have events that would draw people to the mall.
We have no preventive measures in place for homelessness. People fall down they die. This type of housing was not uncommon decades ago. It could be temporary in nature. Every February people stand out in the cold in the hopes of getting a six room single occupancy for women homeless shelter and this lies vacant why are people not pitching in do they have so many great excuses for doing nothing.