Marriott Aloft groundbreaking

A rendering of the Marriott Aloft hotel set for the corner of Neil and Hill streets in downtown Champaign, which had its official groundbreaking Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. The seven-story hotel will have 132 rooms and a lounge called the WXYZ Bar.

Listen to this article

CHAMPAIGN — The new Marriott Aloft hotel in downtown Champaign will have a bar on the first floor, a boutique vibe and robots.

“I don’t know if I’m ready for it, but some of the younger kids might be,” developer and former Illini star Doug Altenberger told Brian Barnhart on Friday’s “Penny for your Thoughts.” “We have a robot that will come and deliver your food and beverage for room service. And his name is Watson.”

Developers ceremoniously broke ground Friday on the seven-story Marriott Aloft, which is slated to open by the end of 2020 on the corner of Hill and Neil streets with 132 rooms.

Altenberger is developing the hotel with Dave Mastio and Tony Block, who were on hand Friday with officials from the city and Illinois athletics.

“We came down and looked at it,” Altenberger said. “I said, ‘That’s perfect for a hotel site.’

“That started it about a year-and-a-half ago, and here we are today with a really cool Aloft Marriott hotel.”

They bought the property in December for $275,000.

It won’t have a swimming pool, but Altenberger said the ground-level bar is “really neat.”

The WXYZ Bar will be right on the corner and have outdoor seating and performances from local musicians.

“It’s a real part of the community,” he said.

The bar was originally going to be on the rooftop, he said, but it “got sort of axed by Marriott, so we moved it downstairs.”

The Aloft will be geared toward a younger audience, Altenberger said, aiming “for a different segment of the market” than the nearby Hyatt Place.

“It’s a hotel that’s perfect for urban, downtown,” he said. “It’s a good fit for Champaign.”

The hotel is expected to cost $20 million to build. Developers said it will support 250 construction jobs, employ 60 full-time workers and generate $14 million in property taxes over 25 years.

At the groundbreaking, city officials also noted that the project came about without any incentives from the city.