Monday, September 11, 2023

TownePlace Suites by Marriott Breaks Ground in Marion

By Jon Musgrave

MARION—A new $10 million TowneSpace Suites by Marriott on Halfway Road in Marion is expected to begin construction later this month, according to the developer Neal Patel of Carbondale. 

Sitework began on the last day of August, and final construction plans will be submitted to the city in the next week or so. 

The new 77-unit hotel will be located just south of the old demolished Limited Inn on Halfway Road at the intersection of Walton Way. Each suite will be a studio apartment featuring full-size kitchens and in-room workstations. 

“We needed something on this side,” Patel said in regard to the south side of Illinois Route 13. The new four-story hotel will add some height. 

Walton Way and its extension, Joseph Cannon Way, has seen a number of new projects over the last few years, including a new Olive Gardens, which is expected to open later this year. A new retail shopping center is planned for the property west of Sam’s Club as part of the new STAR Bonds initiative, which will also include the old Illinois Centre Mall. 

“I would love to see Southern Illinois grow and grow. We’ve got our footing here, and we’re planning to stay,” Patel added. 

Once construction on the hotel begins, Patel estimates it will take 15 months, with an opening set for late October or November 2024. 

Though occupancy rates at area motels suffered during the government-imposed COVID-19 shutdowns, they recovered to around 50 percent last year and have shot up to 69 to 70 percent so far this year in Marion, according to Patel and city officials.

The TownePlace Suites may not be the only new lodging coming to Marion. The feasibility study for the STAR Bonds district includes two more hotel projects that are expected to open in 2025. 

The new hotel sits on a 1.54-acre tract. The old hotel site to the north contains 1.32 acres. “We do have plans,” for that tract, Patel said, just nothing ready to announce. 

Patel also operates the Comfort Inn in Carbondale and in Marion, the Super 8 motel, and the Marion Center on the site of the old America’s Best Inn motel anchored by Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. 

The new hotel replaces the 81-unit Limited Inn torn down four years ago in October 2019. It originally opened as a Regal 8 Inn in February 1974, Marion’s second hotel west of Interstate 57. The original owners were Don Geary of Centralia, James R. Bracy, and W. T. Bracy of Herrin. For most of its 45-year history, it operated under the Motel 6 franchise.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Despite Virus Marion Sees $5.2 Million in Building Permits

Even with the outbreak of the Chinese COVID-19 coronavirus and the nearly worldwide shutdown of national economies, not everyone is staying at home biding their time. Projects long in the works remain ongoing and Marion saw $5.2 million in building permits filed in March.
Northwest side of The Hill Avenue and Carbon Street
Future site of Love's Truck Stop and Travel Center
Love's Travel Stops filed an application for a nearly $2.8 million building permit with the city on March 20 which has been subsequently approved. They purchased two parcels of land on the north side of The Hill Avenue (formerly Morgan Avenue) from the developers of The Hill last summer for just under $3.7 million. The land sits between as yet to be built extension of North Carbon Street and the Stanford Street at the stoplights installed east of the Interstate 57 intersection.

The builders also bought a third tract of land from the developers near the water tower for a sign. 

The same day Love's filed for their permit. O'Reilly Auto Parts also filed for a half million dollar expansion of their store at 200 S. Court St. The other major project is a $1.57 million office building north of the Illinois Centre Mall on Sioux Drive for Greater Egypt Regional Planning and Development Commission.

Meanwhile work continues on the new Fujiyama's Japanese Steakhouse on Walton Way between Sam's Club and Mackie's Pizza.

Also Marion Campground & RV Park is adding a covered deck and patio according to their $7,000 permit.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Legence Bank Begins $1.5 Million Renovation in Marion

Legence Bank begins work on the former Fifth Third Bank in Marion
It's renewal time for a 45-year-old bank building at the corner of Carbon and Deyoung Streets in Marion.
Constructed at a cost of just $100,000 for its original 2,000 square feet the former Fifth Third Bank and original King City Federal Savings & Loan building is now undergoing a $1.5 million face-lift and expansion.

Eldorado-based Legence Bank filed their application for a building permit with the city on April 5 and began excavation work outside last week. Legence entered the Marion market last year with their purchase of MidCountry Bank's remaining Southern Illinois operations.

Mount Vernon-based King City Federal bought the property at 1133 N. Carbon St. in May 1974 from Chevron Oil Co. They broke ground the following month and opened that December with Clarke E. Deacon as branch manager.

Through mergers and expansions the last financial institution on the site was Fifth Third Bank which eventually closed the facility in favor of their new one across from Heartland Regional Medical Center.

Legence Bank plans to move the retail customer operations from their nearby Boulevard facility to the new location. The Boulevard facility (formerly remodeled for South Pointe Bank's original location in 1994) will continue to be used for back office operations.

The bank building on the corner is one a handful of buildings on that stretch of North Carbon Street to survive the 1982 tornado relatively intact.

UPDATE - 4/17

Legence isn’t remodeling the facility any more as first described when they announced plans last year  but doing a complete rebuild. Since the picture above was taken they’ve completely demolished the 1970s structure.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Camping World Invests $10 Million Plus Into Marion

Camping World's investment in the former Gander Mountain property on The Hill in Marion will soon top $10 million.

The Lincolnshire, Illinois, based company bought the shuttered Gander Mountain store last March as part of their larger expansion and takeover of Gander properties across the nation. Since then the green Gander Mountain sign has changed to a blue Gander Outdoors.

The company bought the building and parking lot last April for $3.1 million then took out a $700,000 building permit for renovations of the property in September. In July the company purchased 10.1 acres north of the property along Blue Heron Drive fronting Interstate 57 from Marion Heights LLC, the developers of The Hill for another $2.4 million. Then, just last month the company filed for another permit for a second $3.5 million building of just under 12,000 sq. ft. That permit is still awaiting approval by the city.

All total the investment in real estate and buildings comes to $9.7 million. Take into account furnishings and inventory the project will soon enter eight-figures territory.

It's not clear though what names the new retailer will be using besides Gander Outdoors. Last week Camping World announced Marion as one of 11 new locations for Gander RV, a new chain of RV dealerships it has developed on former Gander properties.

Marion Mayor Anthony Rinella announced at the beginning of the year that Gander Outdoors expected to be open in some form by the end of March.

It's not the only major move for The Hill development on the northwest side of Marion that started 18 years ago when the local Marion Heights developers bought their first five tracts of land back in the spring of 2001.

The Marion Republican reported that Mayor Rinella told the Marion Lions Club a few weeks ago that Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores is eyeing land on the east side of the interstate between the proposed extensions of Stanford and Carbon Streets north of The Hill Avenue (formerly known as Morgan Avenue) for a new truck stop and travel center. This would make the first major development on the east side of the interstate.

The move would be the second truck stop for the city and the first new one in more than four decades. The closest Love's Travel Stores are at Ina on I-57, Sikeston, Missouri, on U.S. 60, and Calvert City, Kentucky, on I-24.

In preparation for that development and others in the area, the Marion City Council approved bids at their last meeting in January for a new $1.3 million roundabout to be constructed at the intersection of Carbon Street and The Hill Avenue. It will be similar to the one on Russell and Boulevard. This comes after the city purchased lots on the northeast and southeast corners of the intersection last year.

CORRECTION: This story was updated Feb. 8, 2019, to show the total investment announced at $9.7 million with the renovation building permit for the existing building taken out in September 2018 totaling $700,000, not the $500,000 as originally written.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Marion Council Considers Ideas for Old City Hall

The Marion City Council discussed three competing proposals Monday night for the 114-year-old for former City Hall building. Options range from a micro-brewery, a pizzeria or a full-service restaurant. The discussion took place in close session and not in public as it dealt with the possible sale of city-owned real estate. No action was taken afterwards.

The Marion Republican has the story.
Butler said three individuals, all from Marion, have approached the city with the different ideas for how the old building could be used. He did not name the individuals but said the council seems to be favoring one of the ideas. 
"We had three proposals, and I think we are pretty settled on one, but we haven't taken any official action," Butler said on Tuesday. He added the city will make an announcement shortly, either at the next council meeting in two weeks, or even before then.
The building sits in the northeastern corner of the square at 100 Tower Square Plaza. Built in 1903, the Marion State and Savings Bank used the first floor while the city had its offices on the second. When the bank built what is now the Citadel Building on the west side of the square in 1914, the city purchased the building and moved operations to the main floor.

The Marion police utilized rooms upstairs for years as the city police station before eventually moving to the ground floor in the north half of the building. The northeast corner of the basement housed the city jail. The city moved out of the building to larger offices in the current City Hall on the east side of the square in August 1993.

This is the third round of trying to find someone to refurbish and find a use for the old building since the Marion Living magazine closed up shop. Of the three suggestions, a microbrewery would likely have the most impact in bringing additional visitors to the city.

Although this is not the first proposal for a microbrewery in the city (one progressed a few years ago to the point of meeting with city officials on what changes would need to be made in the city's liquor ordinance to allow one), if selected, this proposal for one would be the first one of its kind to open in the county and would fit with the ongoing development of a downtown entertainment and nightlife district.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Demolition Starts at Marion's Old Executive Inn

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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

$11.17 Million in Commercial Projects Underway in Marion

Well over $11 million in commercial projects have been permitted or broken ground this spring on Marion's west side along all three exits.

While city officials mentioned Culver's was looking at Marion last month, owners of the new restaurant took out a building permit on June 1 for their new 4,473 sq. ft. restaurant at 2607 Blue Heron Drive, immediately east of the IHOP now under construction. It's valued at $1,450,000. However as Wednesday they had not filed a deed for the lot.

Culver's becomes the fourth restaurant under construction (or at least about to be) in Marion.

The new IHOP up on The Hill at 2607 The Hill Ave. comes in at $1,116,000. They took out their building permit on March 10.

Around the corner at 1309 Halfway Road just north of Krispy Kreme, Kidds Restaurants Inc.has begun construction of a new Jimmy John's. That project is just $200,000. They've had their permit since Feb. 5.

Down the road Marion's third Dairy Queen at 1300 Redco Rd. next to Marion Toyota is finally enclosed. This $850,000 building was permitted Feb. 3. 

The restaurants are joined by two new convenience stores and a large car wash.

The city's fourth Huck's convenience store at 2700 W. Main St. near Exit 53 is going up quickly. Carmi-based Martin & Bayley took out a building permit the new $1,050,000 store at the corner of Halfway and Main on April 11.

Meyer Oil Co. which has recently expanded into deep Southern Illinois with locations in Harrisburg and Herrin took out a building permit on May 25 for a new Mach 1 convenience store at 2603 The Hill Ave. which is on the south side of the former Morgan Avenue backed up to the old shuttered Executive Inn. That one is a $2.8 million project.

The largest project this spring has been NLB Properties's new Finishline Carwash which will take the place of Ryan's Steakhouse. The old building is down and the new one going up is a $3.7 million project.

Smaller projects in the older sections of town include a $300,000 expansion to Erica's Doggie Stylez at 1012 W. Main St. for pet boarding and training and a $150,000 building at 505 E. College St. northeast of Family Video for a new fitness center.

According to the Southern Illinoisan, the city is looking at even more development particularly in the area of The Hill which would include additional restaurants (Buffalo Wild Wings is what's been mentioned the most), office and retail space as well as a $10 million hotel. In total $27 million in private investment is expected in a new TIF district being created south of The Hill Ave.

Other than the Mach 1 station most of those projects have not been identified and could be spread out over the next three years.