Sholem Aquatic Center re-opens following a massive revamping in 2006.
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September, 2005
The Chancellor Hotel, at the corner of Neil Street and Kirby Avenue in Champaign has been torn down to make way for redevelopment. Also missing now is Aunt Sonia’s. Plans call for a new retail site, and two Hilton hotels for that area: Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Homewood Suites. Paul Tatman of Tatman’s Auto Repair is one of the developers.

June, 2004
Home Depot buys former Kmart site. The Champaign Kmart store at 800 W. Bloomington Road closes and is replaced with a new Home Depot. Now, with the closing and razing of the Urbana Kmart store on S. Philo road, there is no more Kmarts in the area.


With the loss of Kmart, CU area residents now turn to three Wal*Mart stores: One on north Prospect across from a Meijers (this one replaced a former, smaller Wal*Mart that was just north of I-74 off N. Prospect), another just north of Willard Airport on Rt. 45 in Savoy, and the newest at the corner of Rt. 130 (Highcross Road) and Rt. 150 (E. University Avenue) in Urbana. That corner now features the newest area Post Office, and soon will see a second Menards in addition to the Wal*Mart. Menards has not started construction yet, but their plans include multi-unit family housing as well as the store.

54-year-old Burch Village demolished and replaced with Douglass Square, new multi-level housing. 50 units located between Fourth and Sixth streets on Bradley Avenue. The rental units consist of one, two, three and four bedroom Victorian and Arts and Crafts-era styling elements.

Urbana’s old Post Office downtown was sold to an independent media group which promises to make it available to the public. Postal services will continue in the building, while most of the USPS operations have been transferred to the new building on Rt. 130 on the east edge of town.
Lincoln Square Mall is now Lincoln Square Village. Originally plans were to create condo’s within the complex, but so far nothing has happened. What has happened is one of the two major HMO’s in the area, Health Alliance has moved its 400 employees into office space in the “Village.”

Other comings and goings...
The Jolly Roger is closed. Some strange, not fully explained problems with the owner brought the long-time Urbana landmark to an end. Wait staff kept it running (without pay) hoping things would improve, but serious, personal financial problems brought the business down.


Pickles, a family restaurant on Neil Street in Champaign has changed hands and is now Papa George, a Greek restaurant.

The old Grants Department Store
in Champaign has been replaced with a new, 4-story building featuring fancy restaurants and a jewelry store on the first floor, offices above, and luxury condo’s on the 4th floor. Even though it’s on the even No’s side of the street, the structure, now complete, is called One Main. Across the street to the west from One Main Plaza is currently construction on an even bigger new building to also offer condo’s and office space. With the new buildings, improved bars and restaurants, including lots with outdoor seating, it’s only fitting and proper that the Champaign City Council increases the costs of parking to $.75/hour, enforceable until 9:PM.

Another exit from I-57 is almost complete. It will guide visitors to CU in on Curtis Road in SW Champaign. Locals there are hoping it will not become like the very congested shopping area simply referred to as North Prospect. That area has many upscale chain restaurants as well as Menards, Lowes, Target, a Border’s Bookstore, and many many other retail establishments. It has become for this reporter, THE PLACE to AVOID during the Christmas shopping season.

K’s Merchandise Mart is no longer on Mattis, and it is no longer just west of Market Place. Hobby Lobby has moved into K’s last location.

Meanwhile, Market Place continues to do business, and with free parking.

Recognitions and Awards
August, 2005 U of I Physics Professor, Gary Gladding, was awarded the Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, American Association of Physics Teachers, 2005, in Salt Lake City. The award to Dr. Gladding was in recognition of his work in remaking the way physics is taught, something that is hard to accomplish without a team effort by UI physics faculty.

September, 2002
Urbana’s Erika Harold, 22, crowned Miss America. Miss Harold is a former University High School student. Her plans to promote anti-violence and anti-bullying programs stem largely in part from her experiences in high school, and the harassment she endured as a student there
October, 2007
Longtime Urbana teacher, Dan Perrino, earned the Lifetime Achievement ACT (Arts, Culture, and Entertainment) award. The awards, only in their third year, also recognized Roger Ebert’s Film Festival.
The west wing of Provena Covenant Hospital (formerly Mercy Hospital) was demolished in January 2008 to make room for additional parking and green space.

The building that formerly housed Bidwell’s on Wright Street in Campustown was demolished in January 2008. A new 5 story retail / office complex is planned for that space.

The old Champaign library was demolished in January 2008 to make room for parking for the new library built north of the old building.

Coed Theater at 616 E. Green Street, Champaign closed July 1999, demolished February 2000.

Perkins School demolished in 1995 to make way for Tatman’s Body Shop. The school was built in 1910 and had been closed since 1959.

Thornburn School demolished in March 1994 because of structural problems.

Dom’s Patio Villa closed December 2007. First opened in 1966, the building at 301 Locust , Champaign was built by Dom Buttita himself.

Whittaker’s Jewelry on Main Street in downtown Urbana closed December 2001, opened in 1926.

Montgomery Ward store at 112 E. Main, Urbana closed July 1973, opened in 1928.

Chuck Wagon Diner built in 1952 in New Jersey opens in 1956 in Champaign. Moved to Villa Grove 1976, brought to Urbana in 1983 as the Elite Diner, taken to Homer in 2002.

Les’s Lounge opens 1978 at 403 N. Coler, Urbana. Closed in June 2004 by Carle expansion.

Meadow Gold Dairy, later called Modern Dairy closed October 1996.

Steak & Shake at 708 W. University, Urbana closed March 1998 and reopens at 1709 S. Neil, Champaign; first opened on University in 1953. First Steak & Shake was built in Normal in 1932, 2nd in Bloomington, 3rd at 608 E. Green, Champaign in 1935 (moved to 3rd and Green in 1939. There are currently three S&S in town – S. Neil and N. Prospect in Champaign and Kenyon Road, Urbana.

Coca Cola bottling plant on S. Neil first built in 1939 as a rare example of a commercial building built in the Art Deco style; now home to Jillian’s, a billiard parlor / pizza place.

Carmons on N. Neil closed Summer 2007, had been in business since 1947. Reopened late 2007 under new owners as Carmon’s Creperie.

The Sea Slide at Lake of the Woods, Mahomet closed in 1984, opened in 1952. Rising to a height of 40 feet (first time felt like 400 feet), the railed sleds were a cooling, thrilling splash into the lake.

The White Horse restaurant in Campustown closed its doors November 2007 due to bankruptcy.

Perhaps the largest tragedy in Champaign – Urbana history - Po’ Boys Bar B Que closed December 2006. Po’ Boys had been open, off and on, since 1953. Arnie passed away in January'08