We have some pretty significant news to pass along, right off the bat, this Monday morning, in regards to the historic Urbana Landmark Hotel. Located at 210 S. Race Street — it has been subject of endless conversations and debates over the years because of failings by purchasers, then eventually going back on the market in 2015 for $5.4M.

The City of Urbana has announced that Hilton is expected to purchase and redevelop the Urbana Landmark Hotel and convert it into a Hilton Tapestry Collection-branded location.

At the center of this appears to be hotel developer, Dionis Rodriquez, who is proposing what would be an incredible renovation to the hotel — costing a cool $20M. The renovation would "fully reactivate all 128 hotel rooms as well as reopen the restaurant, bar, conference center and dining hall while preserving the historic character of the building."

Whoa. Obviously, this is a major development and announcement that would change the scope of Downtown Urbana for... well, ever really.

Does all of this mean the Downtown area will be completely reinvigorated? Not entirely. You still have a lot of work to do, but this certainly makes it attractive in terms of welcoming events, and more human beings, to the area that has been moving in a good direction, but still needing to get over the hump, over the past decade or so. Generally, more humans, jobs, and attractions in the area is a good thing for the social component, but economically, of course.

Here is the full press release:

Hilton Brand Expected for Urbana Landmark Deal

The proposed developer of the Urbana Landmark Hotel has executed a term sheet with Hilton for the downtown hotel to be a part of the newly launched Tapestry Collection brand. 

The Tapestry Collection by Hilton launched on January 23, 2017 as the 14th brand and second collection brand of Hilton, the world’s fastest growing hospitality company. Eight locations were announced at the launch, with 35 more deals in the works, including Urbana’s.

The Tapestry Collection was created in response to customer demand for unique hotels that retain their independent spirit and appeal to a youthful customer base.  

Hotel developer Dionis Rodriquez said that his company executed a term sheet with Tapestry Collection, indicating strong interest from Hilton for the hotel to be part of its global system. “Other compelling brand options exist but Hilton is at the top of the list,” he said. 

Rodriquez is the founder and managing principal of Crimson Rock Capital, based in Glen Rock, New Jersey. He said he was “very excited about this option and believes it will be a strong fit for Urbana, as well as achieve our goals to create a hotel that offers the optimal combination of catalytic community impact and return on investment.”

Mayor Laurel Prussing, who has worked diligently on securing the hotel deal over the past several months, said that “Hilton is an outstanding company.”

She noted that “the City is fortunate to be working with a hotel developer as experienced as Crimson Rock, which has put together a high performing execution team that has successfully renovated and developed hotels throughout North America.” As a frequent Hilton customer, she is looking forward to welcoming the brand to Urbana. 

Rodriquez is proposing a $20 million major renovation of the nearly century old Urbana Landmark Hotel to bring it back up to top-of-market standards and to serve as a catalyst for continued development in the downtown.  Crimson Rock’s proposed renovation will fully reactivate all 128 hotel rooms as well as reopen the restaurant, bar, conference center and dining hall while preserving the historic character of the building.

Crimson Rock Capital has asked for City assistance in the form of bonds to be issued post construction to help monetize projected hotel food & beverage taxes as well as a special boutique hotel/motel tax focused on the Urbana Landmark Hotel property only. The project is not feasible without assistance from the City based on the extensive renovation required to properly transform it into a leading hotel. The property, which is currently closed, has not had a complete renovation in several decades. 

A development agreement is in the works and is expected to be presented to the City Council for approval in late March.

Crimson Rock Capital is a private investment firm that has teamed with Walsh Associates, Inc., a premier hotel renovation management firm based out of Port Chester, New York, that has extensive national hotel renovation experience, and New Castle Hotels & Resorts, a leading hotel management and development company based in Connecticut, with an inventory of over 3,000 rooms. New Castle has properties throughout the eastern parts of North America, with brands including Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, and Choice. The portfolio includes a number of historic hotels that are recognized by Historic Hotels of America. Crimson Rock Capital, Walsh Associates and New Castle Hotels have a long history of working together. 

Crimson Rock, Walsh Associates and New Castle are working with Campo Architects of New Orleans, a firm which specializes in historic properties.  The development team recently completed a major renovation and rebranding of the Fairfield Inn & Suites in New Orleans, which is housed in an historic building in the downtown area.

Top photo of Landmark Hotel by Justine Bursoni.