Developer envisions Penn Centre

July 2, 2007
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Plans are taking shape for a major hotel, residential and restaurant development across from Conseco Fieldhouse. Penn CentreSouth-side developer J. Greg Allen is proposing a project that would stretch from Maryland Street to Georgia Street along Pennsylvania, incorporating the facade of the Omega Building (at bottom right of photo), but excluding a small parking lot used by Hampton Inn (at bottom left). The project would feature two high-rise buildings, of 28 and 17 stories, and include a 240-room Le Meridien hotel, 150-room aloft hotel, 64 condos, up to six restaurants and a 550-space parking garage. You can read more here. Allen has closed on the property and hopes to begin construction this year. I'll post renderings as soon as I can get them.
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  • It's a little disappointing given some of the earlier height rumors about this project. But a 28 story, 17 story and 9 story tower complex is nothing to sneeze at. A fantastic addition to that suddenly booming quadrant of downtown. I can't wait to see some renderings.
  • It sounds like a fast moving development--exactly what Indy needs. I'm concerned about the fact that the Hampton Inn won't give up the small lot right on the corner. It could leave the property looking unfinished. I hope they can work out a deal where the Hampton uses land on Chesapeake instead.
  • CorrND, don't be surprised if the heights drop even further. The IHCers will be up in arms about a 28 story tower.
  • Where is Allen's track record? I'm not convinced that he can pull this off. Oh, sure it sounds great, but he needs a partner for the financing to pull this off. I think he's using the PR from these articles to show to prospective investors. The whole thing is just a fishing expedition.
  • Although I am THRILLED about this announcement, I will believe it when I see cranes. I think our downtown is hoteled-out! There isn't a whole lot of sight-seeing in Indianapolis. We are a convention and sports city and all of these rooms on the drawing board has me nervous. Can we absorb that many in the next 4 years? I am sure (hoping) that it is nearly a done deal, but I can't help but be pessimistic.

    Now, if all fo this does pan out, WOW! Downtown really is starting to boom with high rises much like it did inthe late 1980's!
  • Cranky & IndyGuyu-

    I do know that this project has been making the rounds at IHPC for over 2 years! Therefore, I am pretty sure that if there is financing, this will be the final product.
  • Can't wait to see the renderings... I wish they could have developed the small lot also.
  • Isn't this the site that Simon was looking at for their HQ a few years ago? What was their reason to abandon the site? I think it was lack of parking nearby, but this proposal takes care of that issue. I couldn't remember if there were site issues as well.

    Also, how visible will these buildings be? Will they be visible from the circle?
  • Given the leadtime to develop hotels, it's not surprising that we're hearing about new developments. The new convention center will be online in two or three years and one would assume that it will be aggressively marketed...and then people will come. They won't want to stay out on I-465 somewhere. If we want conventions with 10-20,000 people, we've got to have lots of hotel rooms downtown.

    If only Bart would use a little of the hotel tax to keep the downtown canal clean...we'd have something to show off.
  • Troy -- yeah, I think that was the proposed site for the Simon HQ. I also think you're right that parking was an issue but they also had some silly reason like there aren't enough food options around there or something like that.
  • I'm extremely confident in the success of this project. Financing isn't really the issue here. And it seems the city has already considered granting a tax break. These are two great hotel brands that will succeed in the city by providing a completely different option. What's more, all the new hotel rooms downtown don't need to rely solely on conventions to be filled. Indy has upped it's marketing lately to become more of a regional weekend getaway tourist destination. All this, plus growing business travel should give the hotels a steady business.

    Allen isn't an idiot. Any developer wouldn't simply spend millions to throw up a couple of hotel towers if they didn't think there was any feasibility.
  • love the idea and hope it happens. it is a shame about hampton's reluctance to sell their small property (i think it was because they didn't want to sell to a direct competitor - i think that's from the main article in ibj) as it will leave a void or make the block look suburban (that might be a stretch). honestly, i'm pumped to see renderings but not holding my breath as absolutely everything has been a disappointment these last few years. i don't mind the shorter height (i think 50-60 stories was the rumor??) in this area as 28 would be fairly high compared to borshoff-johnson-matthews building, the fieldhouse and really all surrounding buildings. this will be good infill...
  • This project would have been taller if they included office space like Allen originally was planning. But a major law firm backed out and hence no 40-50 story tower.

    I don't think financing will be an issue at all. Rumor has it there are some pretty big investors on board including the owner of multiple major league teams.
  • So the Hampton Inn won't give up that lot to a competitor? That's a joke... I'm sure Le Meridien's CEO stay up at night worrying about Hampton eating into his bottom line.
  • I think it says a lot about the Indianapolis market that within 2 years of the opening of the Conrad another high end brand, in Le Meridien, is considering downtown Indy. There aren't a lot of US cities home to either of these names, let alone BOTH.... within a few blocks of each other at that!
  • Just because the developer drops a couple of hotel brands that he's pitched his project to doesn't mean they're pursuing him. Or have y'all never worked with real estate brokers and developers promoting a spec deal?
  • thundermutt is correct, a brand like Le Meridien would never come to a city like Indy.
  • Jim & Thundermutt-

    This isn't the Star boards...no need to be so pessimistic. When the Conrad was announced, the same was being said about that brand too. Indy's convention business, once the expansion is completed, will grow exponetionally and the fact that these brands want here, shows this City is getting recognition. Penn Centre has been on the drawing board for a few years. I learned of it at least two years ago and I am confident that Greg Allen wouldn't be going to the press if he didn't have finiancing.
  • CoryW, I'm a realist. This project just ain't gonna happen in its current form.
  • Jim -- I see no reason that Greg Allen would be so tight lipped and secretive about the plan for SO long, only to have major details changed after he FINALLY decided to make the project public. Other than possibly changing the brand of hotel that would go in there -- and really, what do Indy residents care what hotel he gets? -- what do you think is going to change?

    All indications are that they've been working with the IHPC throughout the design process, even conceding to their desire to have the Omega Building facade preserved, so I seriously doubt they're going to be a roadblock.
  • Of the 20 posts prior to mine, 3 mention the Historical Society in a negative connotation. Not everything thats old should be saved, and thats exactly what they try to do. I wish someone would reply and explain why they seem to have unlimited power and influence.
  • Jason, they have unlimited power and influence because they are busybodies with nothing else to do. The rest of us who still cringe at the fact building like the Marion County Courthouse and Knights of Pythias were torn down, but still support modern, innovative new architecture in downtown don't have the time to fight these people.
  • There's a difference between the players in the historical arena. Only the IHPC (Historic Preservation Commission) has veto power over development in historic districts. Historic Landmarks Foundation actually puts their (donated) money where their mouth is, buying and stabilizing or rehabbing buildings...like the West Baden Springs Hotel.
  • You guys are cracking me up. Hotels aside, there is a lot of confusion on this board over the term “historic.” For the record:
    1) The Indiana Historical Society is not involved in the project. They collect and preserve documents, photos, etc. important to Indiana’s history. This is a great place to do research.

    2) There is no such thing as the “IHC.”

    3) The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC or “the commission”) is a city agency that reviews architectural proposals and land-use items in select districts. They have an architect on staff and two of the nine commissioners are also architects. Most of this city’s best architecture was lost because the city waited until the 1960s to install a preservation commission and create protected districts.

    4) The Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana (“Landmarks”) saves and restores old buildings, and is not involved in this either (yet – let’s see what happens with the “Omega” building). This is one of the best and most effective landmarks foundations in the nation and is used as a model in other states.

    I visited the City-County Building and there are drawings for the hotels on file. A preliminary hearing is set for August 1, 2007. The drawings are not much to look at yet, unfortunately.

    For the uninitiated, the IHPC has design guidelines within set boundaries called “protected districts” (the hotels are within the Wholesale District and will therefore become “protected” once completed). The commission generally does not permit “faux” historic buildings, unlike in Carmel.

    Instead, a new building must represent the “design trends and technology” of the period in which it is built. The explanation I received was so that 100 years from now, observers won’t be confused. This makes sense to me – I wonder what Carmel will look like in 100 years – if any of their fake history is still standing.
  • We own properties close the project site and I think it's great that an ugly parking lot is being turned in to a tall building. It's great for the city and the downtown development. Greg Allen is a successful developer and has a good track record. He knows what he is doing. Wish him the best.

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