Monday, January 16, 2017

Another One Bites the Dust

No more outside wall on the east side of the former Holiday Inn.

A Marion tourism landmark shuttered for the last 13 years will finally be coming down. Crews were seen working today on tackling the outer walls of the former 200-room hotel. The hotel was one of a number of Holiday Inn franchises built and operated by Carbondale developer Stan Hoye. The Carbondale hotel opened in 1968 and was demolished last year.

The Marion hotel opened in June 1969 with 100 rooms, two swimming pools, the Five O'Clock Club cocktail lounge, a restaurant with a dining capacity of 100 and banquet facilities for 250. After losing its original franchise it operated briefly as a Travelodge before shifting to its final name of Executive Inn.

In January 2004, a judge ordered the hotel closed when the owner at the time failed to fix numerous life-safety code violations. The state fire marshal's office found 27 violations in 2002. When they re-inspected the building in December 2003 they still found a dozen violations including the lack of a sprinkler system. Although an official at the time suggested the order was only temporary if the building could be brought into compliance, he doubted it would be due to the high cost.

It's fate may have been sealed a few months later when the Fairfield Inn opened on The Hill. Built at a time decades earlier when it dominated the county's hospitality industry, newer hotels and restaurants proved to be too much competition. As late as 2000, the hotel operations generated only a fraction of what its competitors could do, about one-fifth of Drury Inn's take and coming in ninth among the Marion establishments, even behind the Motel 6 and the Super 8. By 2003, its taxable revenues had been cut in half again.

Back in December 2007, then owner Dr. Yuseph Ta told the Southern Illinoisan he planned a $4 million renovation that would cut the hotel down to a 100-room Garden Inn. City officials proved lukewarm to that idea and privately suggested condemnation would be a better idea.

Former Marion Harley-Davidson dealer Phil Campbell later bought the property and planned to redevelop it, at least until the Great Recession slowed the local economy. A check of land records shows that he appears to have sold the parcel to JMB Development last summer on August 30, 2016. The sales price of $3.1 million comes to about $10.30 a square foot if the 7.33 acres amount is correct on the county's GIS maps. Vacant land in that area and Halfway Road has been going for around $15/sq. ft. for the last decade.

It's not certain what demolition of the hotel would cost, but a figure of $400,000 was bandied about a decade ago which was one of the key reasons why the city didn't try to condemn and demolish it themselves.

The new company, owned by Marion contractor Jerry Barrass, had previously bought the former Wolohan property along Halfway and the former Morgan Avenue, now The Hill Avenue.

With the development of the expanded I-57 interchange and the new access road into the land behind the old Holiday Inn, three new developments have targeted the area, raising prices as the amount of vacant land runs low. IHOP purchased its 1-acre tract for $500,940, at a bargain price of $11.50/sq. ft. to help kick off the development spree. BB Management LLC, the owner of the new Culvers, paid $750,000 for 1.08 acres, or around $14.76/sq. ft.

Across the street to the south in May of last year JMB Development sold the 1.71 acre easternmost portion of the Wolohan property to the owners of the Mach 1 convenience store that will soon open for just under $1.2 million, or $16/sq. ft.

The city created the Hillview TIF District for the area to help reimburse development costs which can include acquisition costs, demolition, rebah of structures should the development company decide to keep any of the old hotel, as well as extension of the access road onto the property on the north side of Illinois Route 13. The Southern quoted city officials last spring indicating $27 million in private investment was heading to the area. The only project hinted at, but not named so far, has been a possible hotel development.