Capital gains and losses

Capital gains and losses

Dec. 11 will be a big day for the future of downtown Urbana.

The city of Urbana has tried for years to manipulate the private marketplace in order to make a business success out of what is now the Landmark Hotel at Lincoln Square.

The result is the hulking shell of a building that represents failure on a number of levels.

But one person's failure is another's opportunity.

The Landmark is being put up for auction Dec. 11 with a minimum bid of $350,000. If a buyer can acquire the property at a low enough price, perhaps there's room to eke out a profit of whatever the Landmark becomes — another hotel or perhaps something entirely different.

Current owner Xiao Jin Yuan brought the property in 2010 and tried, with financial backing from the city that has since been repaid, to make it a successful hotel. But whatever promise the project initially offered the city ultimately faded.

Former Mayor Laurel Prussing, shortly before she left office, brought in another developer who promised to turn the Landmark into hotel gold. But that plan was subsequently rejected because it required a substantial investment — $15 million over 20 years — of taxpayer dollars.

At the time, Yuan wanted $5.4 million for the property. He has, obviously, lowed his sights quite a bit, and it's clear why.

He wants out and is hoping the auction will provide him a way to get out. It will be good for all — Yuan, thecity's tax base and Lincoln Square — if someone with the wherewithal and the vision gets a chance to make a business landmark out of the failed Landmark Hotel.

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