Developers delay announcement about Belleville hotels

An expected announcement about two hotels to be built off Illinois 15 did not happen Thursday afternoon because the developers said the hotel chain with which they are negotiating was not ready to release the name.

The Keller family of Effingham said they expect to operate two hotels offered by this chain.

The hotel, restaurant and sports complex is planned for a site across from the National Shrine of Lady of the Snows. Developers have valued the project at more than $100 million.

Aldermen have approved about $38 million in tax incentives, which are based on revenue generated at the complex.

A Hofbräuhaus restaurant and brewery is also under construction.

Kansas City-based Game On Sports Development has said it will build 11 soccer fields and operators of the sports complex will host regional soccer and lacrosse tournaments on the fields. Players and their families are expected to stay at the hotels being developed by the Keller family.

Also, the owners of the Jack Flash convenience store chain announced earlier this year that they would build a store at the site.

Forrest Langenfeld, financial consultant to the Keller family, apologized for calling people to City Hall for the announcement but he said the national hotel chain remains committed to the Belleville site.

“They are extremely excited about partnering with us,” Langenfeld said of the chain.

He said the chain has not changed its mind and an announcement is still expected soon but he couldn’t say exactly when.

“Due to some issues on their end involving another franchisee in the region that’s doing a facility involved with some major announcements just a few miles down the road, (they) asked us to not release the branding on those hotels,” Langenfeld said.

He said this chain is the “first choice” for the Kellers.

Langenfeld said he expects in the next month that names of four hotels will be announced for the complex.

“You’re going to see hotels coming out of the ground in 2016,” he said.

Mayor Mark Eckert said he was disappointed the developers couldn’t announce the hotels Thursday but added, “My confidence level in the project is just as high today as it has been all along.”

“This project is monumental to Belleville,” Eckert said. “It’s monumental to the St. Louis region.”

Chuck Keller and his sons Chris and Chane attended the news conference at City Hall along with Langenfeld. Chuck Keller said he had been “out of commission” battling health issues over the winter but is back to work on the project.

Langenfeld released other updates about the project:

▪  400 hotel rooms are expected to be opened on the site within 2 ½ years.

▪  Restaurant chains have asked about locating in the complex.

▪  Brewing equipment for the Hofbräuhaus was loaded onto a ship in Hamburg, Germany, on Wednesday. The equipment is worth about $1.5 million and was manufactured in Austria. It is expected to arrive in Belleville by the end of the month.

▪  400,000 cubic yards of dirt have been moved around on the site since last summer.