Hotel Belleville, Belleville

2022 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Advocacy

The conversion of the Hotel Belleville into Lofts on the Square is the result of long and successful effort by Belleville residents to find a new use for the city’s largest historic hotel. When Hotel Belleville opened in 1931, it was a major site for trade meetings and conventions and represented Belleville’s commercial and industrial success in the 20th century. After being converted into senior housing, the hotel went vacant in the 2000s. The City of Belleville entertained an offer by a local attorney to buy the building and demolish it, an option that appealed to many in Belleville who were afraid that such a large vacant building would be a downtown economic drain.

Local preservationists, however, saw potential in this historic hotel and rallied around the building, arguing for its preservation and reuse. In 2014, Landmarks Illinois bolstered local preservation efforts by naming the Hotel Belleville to its annual list of Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The City of Belleville listened to pro-preservation voices and changed course, working with the current development partnership on a National Register of Historic Places designation in 2018 and a $14.6 million rehabilitation that began in 2019.

Belleville’s investment in preservation has paid off with the Lofts on the Square. The rehabilitation of the hotel into 47 affordable apartments using low income housing tax credits and federal and state historic preservation tax credits has created unique opportunities to live in downtown Belleville for residents of low income, retirees and those with disabilities.


(Photo credit: Andrew Bruah Photographer)


Owner: MH Belleville Associates LP

Mike Lundy, Southwestern Illinois Development Authority

J. David Dodson, Bywater Development Group

Larry Betz, Belleville Historical Society

City of Belleville and Mayor Patty Gregory; Former Mayor Mark Eckert

Architect: Mike Jerabek, WJW Architects

Historic Preservation Consultant: Michael Allen, Preservation Research Office

Contractor: Tim Simon, Holland Construction Services, Inc.


(Photo credit: Andrew Bruah Photographer)


Michael Allen, Preservation Research Office

The Hotel Belleville is the last pre-World War II building anchoring Belleville’s central fountain square and the intersection of Main and Illinois Avenues, traditionally the heart of the city. Its presence on the square can be seen for miles from the south and north, and it gives the city a strongly urban landmark as well as store of memory related to the city’s past as a commercial center for southern Illinois. The building also represents the largest Art Deco building built in Belleville, and its geometric terra cotta and brick provide a testament to the city’s 20th century fortunes.


(Photo credit: Andrew Bruah Photographer)


Michael Allen, Preservation Research Office

The project prevented Belleville from having a major gap in the blocks facing its signature central fountain square. The retention and enhancement of connective urban fabric on Main Street in Belleville bolsters efforts to make downtown walkable. The preservation of the city’s largest historic hotel allows for significant local heritage to be retained.

The project demonstrates how historic preservation can support the values of building a more inclusive model of downtown redevelopment, through the conversion of a historic building into affordable housing. A long community campaign to prevent demolition of the historic Hotel Belleville began in 2009, so the preservation success also underscores Landmarks Illinois’ efforts to support community efforts to tell their own stories.

This project is the result of a partnership between the public Southwestern Illinois Development Agency and the private developer Bywater Development. Without the public-private collaboration, it is unlikely that the project would have succeeded. Furthermore, Hotel Belleville received Illinois historic preservation tax credits in the very first round ever for the expanded statewide program, making for a pioneering project.


(Photo credit: Andrew Bruah Photographer)

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