Landmark Hotel auction ends without a buyer


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URBANA — After barely moving for more than two days, the bid for the former Landmark Hotel jumped in 36 minutes from $1.45 million to $3.95 million, where it ended up Wednesday afternoon.

But the owner’s reserve price wasn’t met, leaving the hotel still on the market.

"It didn’t reach our reserve price," said Xiao Jin Yuan, the building’s owner, who added that he’s going to continue trying to sell the hotel. "If the price is right, we will sell it. If it’s not right, we’re not going to sell it."

In 2010, Yuan bought the hotel for $600,000, and in 2015, he put it up for sale with an asking price of $5.4 million.

He closed the 128-room hotel in April 2016.

"We knew that the owner has a high expectation for the sale," said Brandon Boys, Urbana’s economic development manager. "Ideally, what will happen is that the broker representing the property will reach out to the top bidders and have a conversation with them and see if they can’t negotiate a sale outside the framework of the auction."

The broker, Steve Post with California-based Amber Hotel Company, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

"We really weren’t sure what to expect," said Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin. "We were hopeful."

She said the city will continue to look for ideas to transform the nine square blocks that include the former hotel, Lincoln Square and several public parking lots.

Boys said several potential buyers contacted the city about the property.

"We had over a dozen individuals and entities contact us over the course of the weeks leading up to the auction," he said. "We heard from folks locally, across the state and from both coasts."

The auction had a minimum bid of $1.2 million. It began Monday, and in the final minutes of the auction, 10 bids were placed in $250,000 increments.

Boys said he doesn’t know who, or how many people, made those bids.

"I’m not sure who all ended up bidding, but it was great to be given this opportunity to talk about our downtown," he said.

After Yuan bought the hotel at 210 S. Race St. in 2010, he renovated and reopened most of the rooms, but returned $1 million in incentives to the city after not reopening the hotel’s restaurant and conference center.

In June, Urbana rejected a plan to redevelop the hotel by a New Jersey-based firm that officials said would’ve cost the city $15 million and put too much risk on taxpayers.

The Landmark Hotel opened in 1923 as the Urbana-Lincoln Hotel and was bought in 1965 by Carson Pirie Scott & Co. In the '70s, it was sold to the Jumer Hotel chain, which sold it in 2001. After that, the hotel cycled through various owners before Yuan bought it in 2010.