Arts & Entertainment, etc. and Real estate deals and Hotels and Tourism & Hospitality and Visitor Spending and Real Estate & Retail

Carmel to get $30M Renaissance hotel

April 16, 2007

A prestigious, full-service hotel soon will complement Carmel's booming office market along North Meridian Street.

A Cincinnati developer broke ground this month on a roughly $30 million Renaissance hotel with 263 rooms and 14,000 square feet of meeting space. The Renaissance Indianapolis North will sit on 122nd Street, between Meridian and Pennsylvania streets, just north of Conseco Inc.'s headquarters.

The developer, Winegardner & Hammons Inc., bought the eight-acre property from California-based Panattoni Development Co., which bought it from Conseco. Both sales were brokered by locally based Resource Commercial Real Estate.

The hotel will feature a great room with a library and fountain, executive boardrooms, a 7,500-square-foot ballroom, a Starbucks and a restaurant dubbed grille31.

The eight-story hotel will rise amid major new office projects from Opus North Corp., Lauth Property Group, Duke Realty Corp. and Panattoni that are slated to add more than a half-million square feet of office space to the thriving corridor.

"There would not be a Renaissance going up there if North Meridian were not the corporate address that it is," said Rob S. Hunden, a hospitality consultant with Chicago-based Hunden Strategic Partners, which has helped develop several Indianapolis projects. "This is a real step up for Carmel."

The Renaissance isn't the only project in the works that would add to Carmel's roster of about 1,200 hotel rooms, which are mostly in small, limited-service hotels along U.S. 31.

Pedcor Development Co. is slated to build a 110-room conference hotel at City Center, and Browning Investments has filed plans with the city to build two new hotels as part of a 20-acre retail and office complex northeast of U.S. 31 and 131st Street. Neither developer has revealed brand names for their projects.

The new Renaissance will be Indiana's first for the Marriott-owned brand, a slightly more fashion-forward concept similar to Starwood's W hotels. Prices likely will be comparable to the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, where the rate on a recent weeknight was $149, or Renaissance Chicago North Shore, where the rate was $109.

Another Renaissance hotel is in the works for downtown Indianapolis as part of a $250 million complex of hotels near White River State Park. That project, a partnership of White Lodging Services Corp. and REI Real Estate Services, will include a 1,000-room JW Marriott convention hotel slated to open in January 2010.

For Carmel, the Renaissance is just one more amenity that will help keep taxes low, said Mayor Jim Brainard. The city did not offer incentives to entice the developers but granted a variance for a larger-than-usual sign to give the hotel more visibility. The hotel, which is slated to open in late summer 2008, will be accessible from 116th Street, Carmel Drive and Old Meridian Street.

"It's a prestigious name," Brainard said. "We're very happy."

Winegardner & Hammons owns and operates about a dozen other Marriott-branded hotels in several states. The company was drawn to Carmel by attractive demographics, rapid residential growth and a strong office market, said Cindy Swift, the company's business development director.

Other developers had been reluctant in the past to build a new, full-service hotel in Carmel, but new office buildings and hospital facilities and a strengthening hotel market likely helped make the pitch this time, Hunden said.

Average occupancy in Hamilton County hotels has lingered at around 60 percent since 2001, as available rooms jumped from 1,400 to more than 2,000 in 2006, according to data from Hendersonville, Tenn.-based Smith Travel Research. But revenue per available room, a key measure of success for hotels, has steadily risen in the county, from an average of $45 in 2001 to $54.47 in 2006.

The Renaissance should give the county's office market another boost by offering a new amenity for tenants, Hunden said. It also could help Indianapolis as the city bids on major events like the Super Bowl.

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