March 6 is the deadline for the developer of a proposed downtown hotel to prove that more than $73 million in private financing has been secured for the project. Otherwise, a city agreement to provide $450,000 for property acquisition, and more than $7 million in public money down the line, could be in jeopardy. Early this week, a Chicago attorney representing the developer assured corporation counsel Jim Zerkle that everything's fine: A financier in Spain is taking care of everything, loan agreements will be in hand by week's end, we're on target. Zerkle on Tuesday invited the developer to ask for a 60-day extension, but as of press time, no extension had been requested. If nothing else, the looming deadline certainly adds an element of drama to plans, so far unclear, for the University of Illinois Springfield and Southern Illinois University to transform the area by establishing a university presence – "campus" may be too strong a word – to the area. Besides rooms, the hotel at Fourth and Washington streets would feature luxury apartments, a bowling alley and a rooftop bar with nigh unsurpassed views of the Capitol. We can't wait, and good luck.

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