Urbana votes against making Lincoln Hotel a historic landmark

By Eric Heisig

The Urbana City Council voted against making the Urbana-Lincoln Hotel a historic landmark Monday night.

The hotel, which is owned by Global Hotel Management of Normal, Ill., and located at 209 S. Broadway Ave., has been operating significantly under its occupancy and is expected to have just a 0.2 percent occupancy for the year, said Fred Rotermund, vice president of the company.

The biggest concern of the Council and citizens coming forward to express their voice was the preservation of the building if it was not designated a historic landmark.

“It saddens me that we are losing control of such a special building,” said Urbana resident Linda Lorenz.

However, the Council felt that if the ordinance passed, it would further hinder the development of the hotel, which has had significant structural problems and low occupancy for some time. Rotermund said the historic landmark designation would hinder possible offers coming in from hotel chains.

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“The landmark designation would have prevented us from having a major brand,” he said.

Still, even though Global Hotel Management is trying to market the hotel to major hotel chains, they want to keep the original exterior design of the hotel, which was opened in 1924.

“It is not in our scope to demolish it,” Rotermund said, even though he said he could not speak for the owner.

Still, even though the motion failed, the Council is anxious to protect the hotel. Ward 4 Council member Brandon Bowersox said that by voting against the ordinance, they will be able to better preserve it by bringing the money in to renovate it. Rotermund said the project is currently estimated at $8 million.

Following the ordinance failing, the Council passed a motion to go into talks with Global Hotel Management in order to have the company and the city on the same page for preserving the original exterior of the hotel.

The Council voted 4-1 against the ordinance, with Ward 5 Council member Dennis Roberts voting for it. Ward 3 Council member Robert Lewis and Ward 6 Council member Heather Stevenson were not present.

The Urbana City Council meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.