A couple of major developments could continue the transformation of downtown Champaign.
Motorists in downtown Champaign will be inconvenienced this week as a one-block stretch of Neil Street is closed for sewer work, but it's a small price to pay for the major development that is planned to follow it.
The sewer work and a manhole to be added are both related to the hotel project proposed at the site of the former Metropolitan Building, and the hotel, along with an assisted-living center under development a couple of blocks to the west, would continue the remarkable transformation of the downtown area.
Developer Hans Grotelueschen plans a Hyatt Place hotel at the southwest corner of Neil and Church streets, where the nearly complete renovations of the Metropolitan Building and an adjacent law-office building were destroyed by fire in 2008.
As proposed, the Champaign hotel would have 145 rooms, with rooms located on the top five floors of the nine-story building. Parking would be on the second through fourth floors, with the lobby and a small bar-cafe on the main floor.
The city has received an application for a demolition permit for the building to the west, 115 W. Church St., which is planned to be part of the hotel site. No applications for building permits have been filed yet.
Also planned is a nine-story apartment building for the physically disabled on North State Street across from West Side Park. Developer Eden Supportive Living plans to use the framing of the five-story Robeson's Inc. building at 222 N. State St., C, as the base for the nine-story structure. When completed and furnished, the entire project is expected to cost about $15 million.
The apartment building would have 150 units for people with physical disabilities. Besides providing housing, the facility would offer nursing support, wellness programs, daily meals, classes and 24-hour emergency support. Features would include a restaurant for residents, a theater, a music studio, a cyberlounge and a training kitchen for cooking classes, as well as a fully accessible exercise and yoga facility.
The projects continue the trend of improvement in the downtown. They will be major infill developments and add diversity to the mix of restaurants and bars that make the downtown a popular nightlife destination.