MTD's Illinois Terminal Expansion Project to Merge with Downtown Hotel Project, Seek Hockey Partnership
By Lisa Meid on 7/18/2017 12:00:00 AM

Developer Hans Grotelueschen’s major downtown Champaign project once sited at Washington and Walnut streets will move several blocks south and east to merge with a planned expansion of Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District’s (MTD’s) Illinois Terminal. 

As part of a new vision for this development, Grotelueschen and MTD officials are also evaluating a hockey arena and athletics event center for approximately 5000 spectators. In so doing, they hope to partner with the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA), which recently announced that it was studying the feasibility of adding Division I ice hockey.

“When we were in the beginning planning stages for the development at Washington & Walnut,” explained Grotelueschen, “we quickly realized that we would have tremendous benefits from a location that was proximate to a transportation hub. I heard through the grapevine that MTD was considering an expansion of their terminal in downtown Champaign, and have been working toward the development of that site.”

“With the site’s expanded footprint (approximately 8-10 acres versus the original 4-acre site), and given DIA’s expressed interest in exploring Division I hockey, the opportunity to include an athletics event center in the plan makes the development project that much more attractive and impactful for the Champaign-Urbana community.”

The project will be immediately accessible by bus, train, bicyclists and pedestrians, and will cement the strong and growing connection between Downtown, Midtown and Campustown.

“Expanding Illinois Terminal has been something that we’ve been working on for a few years now,” said MTD Managing Director Karl Gnadt, “and combining our project with Hans’ makes so much sense. It brings a significant amount of dynamic activity right to the heart of our transit services, making for extremely efficient operations. Effective partnerships like this maximize resources and benefits for Champaign, Urbana, and the University.”

Bruce Knight, Planning and Development Director for the City of Champaign, noted that the new location still accomplishes the same goals for the City as the northern site did, “It is in the same newly formed Tax Increment Finance District, brings new investment to downtown that builds the customer base for the many locally owned bars and resaurants in the area, and redevelops underutilized land. The new site has the added benefit of advancing a long time City Council goal of better connecting downtown and the University District. City staff is very excited to bring this concept to City Council for its consideration.”

The Champaign City Council is scheduled to conduct a study session for this development on August 22, 2017.