Investors and Champaign County leaders are hopeful that the new Cobblestone Hotel in Urbana will bring people to the city — and keep them there.
Ground was broken at the three-acre site near the intersection of U.S. 55 and U.S. 68 on Tuesday afternoon.
“If the rain stops, we can use these shovels for real,” said Champaign County Economic Development Director, Marcia Bailey.
She said the city has missed countless opportunities to cash in on tourism dollars because it didn’t have the resources to provide for the need.
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A feasibility study showed that the city could support the hotel — and could actually manage a bigger hotel than what it had originally planned.
Bailey said Urbana University alone brings in 2,500 visitors just for athletic events alone every year — with no place for all of them to stay.
A consultant with Core Distinction Group, who conducted the study, previously said Champaign County has been losing possible revenue to Clark County, where there are several newer options for guests to stay overnight.
“We also then lose the opportunity for the purchasing power of other items such going to the store, shopping in our community,” Bailey said.
If the hotel proves to be successful, the building could be expanded.
CEO of Cobblestone Hotels, Brian Wogemese explained at the groundbreaking that the company focuses on small town values, but provides big city qualities.
“We can meet with the city. We can meet with the mayor. We can meet with bankers — with everybody that was involved,” he said.
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Cobblestone Hotels currently has hotels up and running or under construction in 26 states, including two in Ohio — in Lorain and Orrville, which is south of Akron.
There are three other places to stay in the area — the Urbana Inn on U.S. 36, the Scioto Inn on Scioto Street and the Logan Lodge, just outside of Urbana on U.S. 68 — but all have limited rooms.
The Cobblestone Hotel is slated to have 54 rooms, as well as an indoor pool, conference center that can hold up to 50 people and a breakfast bar that is converted into a beer and wine bar at night.
“You’re not hardly on the map when you have guests or family members — or a couple entities host weddings in this area — and you’re sending guests out of town,” said one of the project’s investors, Terry Howell.
“We want to make Urbana proud and Champaign County proud,” Howell said. “And I’m certain that this hotel when it’s finished, will do that.”
Site work for the hotel is expected to start later in the summer, and the completion date is scheduled right now for spring 2020.
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