MURPHYSBORO — It may not look like it, but progress has been made on Murphysboro’s Holiday Inn Express development.
Developer Joe Koppeis said Thursday that just that afternoon he got a letter from the Illinois Department of Transportation approving a small land trade that completed the approval process for the development’s access road. That was the primary hurdle that has been preventing actual construction on the proposed hotel at the corner of Illinois 127 and Illinois 13, he said.
The project began in 2015 when Koppeis purchased the old Apple Tree Inn and cleaned the site up, with the intention of building a modern hotel there. The project has hit many snags in the last four years.
“Every project is different, and I will tell you that this one has had more hiccups than many,” he said. Koppeis is also the developer behind Sparta’s Holiday Inn Express.
Despite the setbacks, Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens wrote in an email Thursday that he has not lost faith or hope that the project will be completed.
"I have complete confidence in Joe Koppeis, and still believe that the Hotel Development will happen,” Stephens wrote.
There have been personal challenges as well for Koppeis. Earlier this year his Columbia home burned, killing his mother-in-law, according to the Belleville News Democrat. Stephens said Koppeis' fortitude in moving ahead with the development despite his personal problems spoke volumes.
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"The fact that he is still willing to move forward with this development, despite all he has been through, is a testament to his character," Stephens wrote in his email.
Koppeis said he understands the public frustration.
“(We have) spent a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of energy and there’s nothing there to show for it,” he said.
With IDOT's final approval in hand, Koppeis said “hopefully we can get started on bids and get things going.”
Koppeis is hopeful that crews will be able to begin working simultaneously on the hotel and business complex and the entryway construction for the site. First, though, will come the bidding process, which he was not sure of a firm timeline for, as of Thursday.
That said, he said he is looking forward to getting shovels in the ground.
“We are anxious to get it going just as much or more as anyone else is,” Koppeis said.