From AP - News Headlines -

Urbana Council Gives Preliminary Support to Lincoln Hotel Bidder

After sitting vacant since the spring of 2009, a prospective buyer has surfaced for Urbana's Lincoln Hotel.

The city council has given preliminary approval to a deal between the city and former commodities trader, Xiao Jin Yuan. Yuan owns a Hampton Inn in Crescent City, California. He said the Lincoln's European exterior is what makes it unique, but the interior is a different story.

"Walking in there, it's just like walking into a dark castle, or something like that," Yuan said. "It's a little bit depressing, that's my personal feeling. I need to talk to my architect and interior designer. The lighting has to be changed. It's too dark."

The Lincoln dates back to 1921 and designer Joseph Royer.

Yuan formerly lived in England. He said he is used to this kind of structure, and sees potential, as long the hotel can offer modern amenities.

"Some of the people like the old style," Yuan said. "I already own a modern hotel. Why shouldn't I try something new?"

Yuan is working to purchase the Lincoln hotel from its current owner, Marine Bank. Under the agreement with the city of Urbana, he would receive $650,000 in Tax Increment Financing funds for initial improvements. Yuan is required to return that money if he sells the hotel before it reopens, but Yuan said he plans on operating the Lincoln until he retires. Additional TIF funds in the $1.4 million dollar agreement would be used for development over a five-year period.

(Photo courtesy of lindsayloveshermac/flickr)