Historic Urbana Landmark Hotel to open late summer

The historic Urbana Landmark Hotel, also known as the Lincoln Hotel, will open in late August.

The Urbana Landmark Hotel was renamed to stress its historic significance to the community. Local architect Joseph W. Royer built the original Tudor-style building in the 1920s, and Jumer’s hotel brand constructed a Bavarian-style addition in the early 1980s. Lincoln Square, attached to the hotel’s lobby, was one of the earliest indoor malls in United States. The combination of the two landmarks, New Lincoln Square Village, was added to the National Register of historical places in 2006. However, it closed its business in 2009 due to mortgage issues.

Xiao Jin Yuan is now the owner and directs the hotel’s renovation project. The second floor of 45 rooms is ready for its new customers.

“The mirror on the wall is the only thing we saved from the old rooms,” said Yuan while pointing at the bronze-framed mirror on the wall in one of the rooms. “We added 32-inch flat screens in every room, and wireless Internet will be available, too.”

Customers tend to think that the original floral bed sheets are dirty and don’t feel comfortable with them, Yuan said, speaking from his experience in hotel management.

“We also changed the old bed sheets to white ones to make it look more modern,” he said.

The library will be transformed into a restaurant, a catering area for guests. The hotel’s basement was a conference center and will be used as an entertainment room when the hotel reopens.

“This could also be a bar for students or faculties who want to hold events here,” Yuan said.

Renovation will continue on the third and fourth floor after the hotel opens. Yuan did not say an exact time when the hotel would be completely renovated.

On June 18, the Urbana City Council approved the revised agreement with Yuan that a reimbursement of $400,000 will be available before the hotel’s August opening. Since the council’s approval on this landmark renovation project in late 2010, $650,000 has been reimbursed to Yuan. The total of $1.05 million, committed so far, comes from a special tax increment finance (TIF) district fund that aims to help redevelopment and renovation projects like this.

“The building was in a rough shape when Mr. Yuan took over,” said Thomas Carrino, Urbana’s economic development manager.

The funds have provided financial support for Yuan to replace the roof and fix broken and leaking pipes for the hotel. It also will help build a newer, brighter and more capacious hotel lobby with marble flooring and skylights.

“It’s an interesting property that provides a unique experience for travelers,” said Carrino.

“We want to restore it to be an operating hotel in downtown Urbana,” said Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing. “It will revitalize Lincoln Square.”

Prussing also stressed the importance of the historic significance of Lincoln Square and the hotel in this renovation project.