The Daily Illini

Out with the old, Inn with the new

This model is of what the new, three-story Illini Inn will look like. The property will also feature 22 apartments above the bar area.

This model is of what the new, three-story Illini Inn will look like. The property will also feature 22 apartments above the bar area.

Rendering Courtesy of Illini Inn

Rendering Courtesy of Illini Inn

This model is of what the new, three-story Illini Inn will look like. The property will also feature 22 apartments above the bar area.

By Luke Cooper and Kevin Delgado

Though the Illini Inn’s summer demolition marked the end of an era for many University students and alumni, the construction of a new Illini Inn, according to the bar and property owner, Chris Saunders, is already underway.

Students walking by the 901 S. Fourth St. location notice the current property changes.

“We’re doing the basement and a lot of the underground stuff right now,” Saunders said. “There’s quite a bit that’s going to happen before the property comes out of the ground.”

On Jan. 17, Champaign City Council approved the construction of a seven-floor, mixed-use development at the location, containing 22 apartment units and a new Illini Inn.

The new Illini Inn will be incorporated into the development as a three-floor bar – main level, basement and a second floor mezzanine – and will include a full kitchen for all-day food operations, Saunders said, who plans to provide Wi-Fi and coffee for future customers.

“It’s going to be a lot more versatile than the old spot,” he said. “Students are going to be able to use (the bar) a lot more than they did before.”   

The new Illini Inn will be designed to mimic the positioning and older aesthetic of the bar’s former establishment, Saunders said, while assuring bar traditions, such as the well-known Mug Club, remain.

“We’re kind of designing the building to make it look like we’ve slapped a new building atop of an older looking Illini Inn portion,” he said. “We think it will be a popular spot. A ‘take two’ while still carrying over the traditions from the past.”

Brian Bauer
Construction beings on the spot of the ol dIllini Inn. Owner Chris Saunders said the decision to rebuild was hard, but necessary.

The rest of the development will contain 22 one-to-three bedroom apartment/penthouse units to be managed and leased by Green Street Realty, which Saunders also owns.

“The staff was always nice and easy to work with,” James McNair, senior in the School of Music, said. “ Last year, some friends and I performed there a couple times. The bar supports live music, unlike other bars on campus.”

He said the decision to tear down the former Illini Inn building was not easy, given the location’s history as an alcohol-serving establishment dating back to the 1960’s, but felt it was necessary for the bar’s future.

“If you had been in the building anytime in the recent past,” he said. “You’d see that the building was in really rough shape . . . There was literally no business (over the last school year). It was nostalgic, but it certainly wasn’t a place where people really went.”

Despite the conditions, Alumni Melody Lee said her experiences at the Illini Inn were always great.

“The Illini Inn was the place to go if you were looking for a chill environment where everyone can have an intimate time with their friends rather than being at a packed, dark bar,” Lee said.

Some students think the Illini Inn was a good place to go after a night out.

“To me, the Illini Inn was a bar to go to as the night was ending because there was a pizza place upstairs too,” she said. “The crowd was mostly upperclassmen, so the regulars who graduated loved that bar won’t get to see the Illini Inn post-graduation”

Construction of the development is expected to finish in late spring to early summer, according to Saunders, with plans for the building to open to the public by August 2018 before school starts.

“I visited the Illini Inn a few times, usually in between periods of the hockey games that took place across the street,” Ljubica Basica, senior in LAS, said. “I enjoyed the chill vibe at the Illini Inn, it was always very relaxed.”

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  • Keith Motton

    Will my mug club card still work

  • Christopher Nelson

    Dear Luke and Kevin,
    Please check on the proper use of “alumni,” “alumnus,” “alumna,” and “alum.” You’ll prove your merit as a journalist, and as someone who knows what they’re talking about. Plus, the rest of us alumni will be happy to see future alumni using the words correctly. (See what I did there?)
    — Chris

    • Nathan Menold

      Dear Christopher Critic,
      Please check on the proper use of commas with compound sentences. Make sure they are independent clauses. You’ll prove your merit as a student newspaper critic and as someone who knows what they’re talking about. (See what I did there?)

      • Christopher Nelson

        Wow, very clever response. You have pretty much assured me that you (nor your editor) will actually do something about your misuse of the word in question. Instead, you have chosen to respond to something that did not necessitate a response. Way to try to distract!

        And no… I have no merit as a student newspaper critic. But thanks for the constructive criticism if I choose to
        take up that career. However, as a practicing physician and a UI alumnus, I am hopeful that the quality of writing that has historically been present at The Daily Illini will continue. However, to maintain that quality requires self-reflection and self-evaluation through assessment of one’s writing.

        • Brave Coal Nanny

          Wow, a physician with an outsized sense of importance, a fragile ego, and a bullying personality? Now there’s a first!

          • Christopher Nelson

            The accusation of fragile ego and the bullying should be assigned to the initial responder. And my career reference has to do with the credentials that the initial responder questioned. Furthermore, he and you have both tried changing the subject entirely. But alas, the details don’t matter for anything, right? Amazing. Good luck to you.

          • Brave Coal Nanny

            Paging Dr. Baby to the comment section. Dr. Baby, please report to the comment section.

    • Ube Sosmart

      Get over yourself.

    • C C

      What I see here is someone who is pointing out that the author of this article was misusing words. That is something that I would find embarrassing if it were me and would therefore like to know. All these fragile egos that can’t ever be corrected without getting defensive….And Chris wasn’t even correcting you. Rather than worrying about his sentence structure, I suggest that you work on confidence and the ability to be told you’re wrong without taking it as an attack on your masculinity. It’s pathetic.