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Retail Developer Say New Sports Complex Drew Them To Rantoul

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The vacant Knight Inn motel building in Rantoul, which a developer hopes to acquire, tear down and use for a new retail location.

RANTOUL – Village officials in Rantoul have been hoping the Champaign County town’s new Family Sports Complex will attract new commercial development. Now they say a deal on the first such development is in the works.

Rantoul officials say an affiliate of Chicago-based developer Core Acquisitions LLC is in the process of buying the vacant Knights Inn hotel building at 801 W. Champaign Avenue (along US Route 136), at the corner of Murray Road.

Core Acquisitions’ Vice-President of Development Adam Bell says the 63,750 square foot location already had the advantages of being next door to a Walmart with access to I-57.  

“I think what really sealed the deal was the development of your sports complex, and the amount of people that that’s going to bring from central Illinois,” said Bell. “You know, I think they’re anticipating several hundred thousand visitors a year.”

Rantoul’s Director of Sports Operations Ryan Reid predicts the Family Sports Complex will attract 250 thousand people during its first year, and could eventually bring in a million visitors annually. Construction is finishing up on the complex, located about a mile south of the Knights Inn site.

The Rantoul Family Sports Complex is set to host its first regional tournament in two weeks, around the same time Core Acquisitions expects to complete its purchase of the Knights Inn site. Bell says they plan to tear down the hotel building and build a new retail facility, for either a single tenant, or several tenants in a shopping center.

Bell says they also count on the new development attracting customers from Rantoul, and motorists traveling on I-57. Despite the impact of the pandemic and the growth of online shopping, Bell says there are opportunities for small shop retail and service businesses.

“QSR’s (quick service restaurants), fast food, in-person services like salons, and nail boutiques, all those things are still going to be vital,” said Bell. “And all those things still are going to draw consumers”.

Core Acquisitions already has several properties in central Illinois, including the Town Center, a strip mall in Champaign’s North Prospect shopping area. Its portfolio also includes properties in Bloomington, Peoria and Galesburg.

Mayor Charles Smith predicted the sports complex would inspire more commercial development in Rantoul.

“The possibilities of growth will continue as others follow the lead of Core Acquisitions”, said Smith in a news release issued Wednesday. The announcement comes one week before the April 6 election, in which Smith is running for a third term, against challengers Kevin Williams and Trustee Gary Wilson.

The village’s release says Core Acquisitions will be represented on the Rantoul project by Chicago-based GreatStreet Realty Partners.

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Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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