CHAMPAIGN -- A fire downtown six years ago, led to a transformation which ended Tuesday. For years after an historic building burned down, there was just a giant pit. But now, the new Hyatt Place Hotel is open in its place. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera finds out what people think of the new structure.
A lot of people like it. Others say it's hard to replace that much history, but for the foreseeable future, it's what you'll see when you go downtown.
Christel Legner, of Champaign, says, "I didn't actually see the fire. I saw it on the news."
That was early morning, November 7, 2008. Flames 100 feet high burned the Metropolitan Building down.
Jody Groff, of Champaign, says, "It was really sad because I think that was the, probably the most beautiful building in downtown Champaign."
Even some who didn't see it in person say they remember what was there for years after; a giant pit.
Legner says, "It was kind of sad, especially since it's such a great space in the downtown area and it was a pit for along time."
But, in the past few years, we've seen a lot of action on the corner. Crews built the Hyatt Place Hotel from the ground up.
Legner says, "We've watched it be built. We come down here pretty often, so every time we come down here, we see the progress that they've made."
Laura Huth, president of Do Good Consulting, says, "It's great to see, out of those ashes, such a wonderful amenity to our downtown area, here in Champaign, rise."
The Metropolitan Building was the oldest one downtown at the time. Now, this hotel becomes the newest. Although some don't think the structure is a good fit, others say it's a welcome addition.
Huth says, "I actually do event planning and I've booked, on behalf of a client, some of these rooms here."
On top of bringing visitors from out of town, some say it will add to the atmosphere of a downtown which is still on the way up.
Legner says, "We might stay here just for fun even though we live in town."
Groff says, "As long as something is there, other than a weedy pit, I think it makes everyone really happy."
The first guests checked into the Hyatt Tuesday afternoon. This is the first hotel in the downtown area.
CHAMPAIGN -- The Hyatt Place Hotel will officially open Tuesday. It's the first hotel option downtown. The hotel welcomes its first guests at 2 pm.
The hotel is the official partner of Fighting Illini Athletics. The building could actually accommodate the entire Illini football team.
It's a nine-story building with 145 rooms. There's a cafe on the main floor, parking on the second through fourth floors and guest rooms the rest of the way up, on the fifth through ninth floors.
Hyatt Place Champaign occupies the corner of Church and Neil streets which has been empty since a 2008 fire destroyed the Metropolitan Building which was there before.
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