University helps to build 4 star hotel near Assembly Hall

By Vince Dixon

While there are several hotels and inns scattered throughout the campus, only three of them are held to a four-diamond standard by the American Automobile Association. On Aug. 11, 2008, that will change as the new I Hotel and Conference Center opens its doors for the first time.

Located across the street from Assembly Hall at the corner of St. Mary’s Road and First Street in Champaign, I Hotel will be a new upscale option in University lodging.

The University teamed up with Fox/Atkins Development to construct the facilities. The conference center, the University’s contribution to the $30 million project, will feature 38,000 square feet of state of the art conferencing and meeting spaces. The center includes ballrooms with theater seating and several 600-square-feet rooms.

Michael DeLorenzo, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and director of auxiliary services, said the University owns the conference center and will use it for scholarly events for faculty and staff.

“It gives us the opportunity to have more academic and scholarly programs on campus,” DeLorenzo said, adding that the buildings will also be used to host visitors of popular campus and sporting events.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The Illini Union already runs a hotel and meeting areas for conferences and conventions, but DeLorenzo said the Union is primarily used by students and there is not enough space.

“Although there are other events that take place (in the Union) it’s hard to get space there,” he said.

Andrea Ruedi, CEO of Fox Development Corp., said she thinks the I Hotel and Conference Center will be a successful addition to the community. She said the hotel has already booked events through 2011.

“We already have some sold out dates,” Ruedi said. “It is a great partnership to see this come out of the ground.”

I Hotel’s upscale amenities and services will set it apart, Ruedi added.

The five-story hotel will offer two VIP suites, fitness rooms and an expansive lobby with a fireplace. Each of the 126 rooms include a 32 inch HD LCD flat-screen television, free wired and wireless Internet, an iHome and iPod clock radio, a cordless speaker phone and an in-room refrigerator with complimentary snacks.

To complement its setting, Ruedi said the hotel’s dining will be held to high standards. She said Fox Development Corp. has added a Houlihan’s Restaurant.

“We wanted to make sure that it was compatible with the standards of the hotel,” Ruedi said.

The Houlihan’s Restaurant menu ranges from mini burgers and filet mignon to calamari and creme brulee. Ruedi said the hotel will also feature its own I Cafe where Starbucks coffee and a selection of Tazo Tea are “proudly brewed.”

The University will provide catering services for the hotel, and University Catering has already began recruiting student employees to work in a “four-star setting.”

Jessica Pasciak, a freshman in ACES and Illini Union Catering employee, said she is excited about the hotel and may be sent to work there next year.

“I think its exciting,” Pasciak said. “I know a lot of people in catering are excited to work over there.”

Ruedi said rates for I Hotel’s service and upscale dining will not be too much higher than average, and that reservations are now being accepted. A complete list of the hotel’s rates and the conference center’s booking information can be found at the hotel’s Web site at For more information, call (217) 819-5000.