A longtime hotel property across from Northwoods Mall has been purchased by U-Haul and will be converted to a self storage facility with additional office and retail space.
U-Haul officials confirmed the purchase of the Travelodge Hotel, 4400 N. Brandywine Drive., which was finalized Friday. Aaron Freeman, U-Haul Company president for Illinois, did not disclose the sale price, and county records of the sale were not yet available Monday.
Freeman said it was the first time U-Haul would be renovating a hotel property and that architects are still designing the overhaul to the facility. The location is a natural fit for the company, with its proximity to another U-Haul site in Peoria, near University Street and War Memorial Drive.
“First and foremost, I wanted to revitalize this particular property,” Freeman said. “It’s in dire need to be redeveloped.”
Plans for the facility include extensive climate-controlled storage units, along with professional office space. Ten to 20 employees will be hired by the conclusion of the renovation.
Freeman also stated the neighborhood will receive a boost from the change.
“The neighbors will like it,” Freeman said. “There will be no late-night use.”
As part of its corporate sustainability initiatives, U-Haul will re-use the existing building instead of demolishing and constructing a new one. U-Haul overhauled a shopping center in Urbana under that same initiative earlier this year and opened a storage facility in its place in October.
The hotel is no longer open, according to Freeman, and the company is targeting an opening date in mid-2018. U-Haul is coordinating with local outlets to donate the furniture left in the hotel to those in need in the Peoria area.
Freeman pointed to the beautification award the U-Haul facility on Allen Road received in 2016 from Keep Peoria Beautiful as a template for the new facility.
“We hope to do the same thing here,” Freeman said.
The history of the property at 4400 N. Brandywine Dr. dates back to 1980 when it opened as one of Holiday Inn’s “Holidome” outlets. The flag changed from Holiday Inn to Ramada in the mid-2000s before being renamed the Grand Hotel in 2009.
The hotel was in foreclosure in 2012 and was purchased by the Grand Group LLC in 2013 for just over a million dollars, according to county records. Previous sales of the property in 2006 and 2007 went for $4.5 million and $5.1 million, respectively.
Earlier this year, state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, introduced legislation to provide funds for a post-prison re-entry center for women, which he hoped would be located at the Travelodge site. The measure received a hearing in a Senate committee in May but did not re-emerge for that particular site after the state budget was passed.