In Urbana, ‘people are interested’ in Dart property, Hilton moves Hotel Royer reservations date to March 2024

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This story appeared in ‘Meeting Minutes & More,’ a weekly, six-page special section in the print editions of Friday’s News-Gazette reported and written by Editor Jeff D’Alessio and designed by News Editor Joel Leizer. Click here to read an electronic version of this week’s section. Click here to subscribe to The News-Gazette.

URBANA — What happens to the property at 1505 East Main Street when the last of Dart Containers‘ 138 laid-off employees checks out for the final time?

That’s among the questions Alderman James Quisenberry reports hearing in recent days from constituents, concerned about the potential of it sitting empty and turning into an eyesore.

Early indications suggest otherwise, City Administrator Carol Mitten said at this week’s council meeting.

“The feedback we’re getting so far is that this is a property that people are interested in. From that alone, we have a high degree of confidence that this property’s not going to lie fallow.”

Royer Room

What a finished Hotel Royer guest room will look like when complete. While Hilton is currently accepting online reservations for Nov. 28 and beyond, the developer has until the end of February to complete the project.

Hilton rendering

Royer reservations date moved again

So much for aldermen’s concerns about Hilton taking online reservations for the Hotel Royer earlier than the under-construction property would actually be ready for check-in.

A date that’s shifted a half-dozen times since late spring has moved again — from Dec. 26, 2023, earlier this month to March 15, 2024 now.

Which would be an altogether different problem if that date holds — in July, the hotel’s developer, Marquis Ventures/Icon Hospitality, was granted a third extension to complete the 131-room job. It must be open for business by Feb. 29, 2024.

However, as company officials explained during their last appearance before the city council, the parent company, not the developer, picks the dates to begin accepting reservations — and it’s subject to change frequently, as has been the case with this massive project. It doesn’t necessarily mean the hotel has fallen behind, or zoomed ahead of, schedule, the developer indicated.

Marquis/Icon officials have not responded to multiple requests by The News-Gazette in recent weeks for a project update, including a query this week.

The city of Urbana has committed to help finance $5.5 million of the development with a bond that won’t be issued until the hotel gets an occupancy certificate and final approval is wrapped up for it to become a Hilton Tapestry Collection property.

Hilton is now accepting online reservations for the under-construction Hotel Royer beginning on March 15, 2024.

Grace Wilken

Grace Wilken

Fire station funding move passed 6-2

After one final round of objections by Grace Wilken and Chris Evans, an ordinance to shift a $1.5 million Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity grant to the city’s Capital Replacement and Improvement Fund earned the six votes it needed to pass, with Mayor Diane Marlin casting the final “yes.”

The grant will be put toward the construction of two new fire stations, replacing the aging, undersized facilities on Philo Road and North Lincoln Avenue.

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