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Stutz Business Center owner purchases Canterbury Hotel

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Turner Woodard, owner of the Stutz Business Center, announced Monday afternoon that he has closed on the purchase of the upscale Canterbury Hotel on South Illinois Street in downtown Indianapolis.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Woodard bought the historic hotel, built in 1928, from the Fortunato family of suburban Chicago. Donald L. Fortunato, who died last June, had been seeking a buyer for several years. His sons, Donald Jr. and Joe, made the sale to Woodard.

Fortunato helped redevelop the luxury hotel in the early 1980s. He told IBJ in September 2007 that he was close to selling the 12-story, 99-room hotel, but the sale wasn't completed.

Local businessman Fred Klipsch and an investment group participated in discussions a few years ago to buy the hotel, but decided not to go forward with a transaction.
 
Woodard said in a press release that the Canterbury fits his vision of turning around companies and making them profitable. The hotel has struggled in recent years as upscale rivals such as the Conrad Indianapolis, which opened in 2006, have become more attractive to visitors.

In September, The Restaurant at the Canterbury Hotel, stopped serving lunch, after sales declined about 15 percent from the previous year.

Yet, Woodard said the aging structure presents an opportunity that newer hotels cannot match.

“The Canterbury is a jewel box-style hotel,” he said in the statement. “In a world filled with cookie-cutter products and services, there still remains a significant segment of the population searching for original ideas and experiences.”

Woodard said he plans to redevelop the hotel in a “bit more of a contemporary, yet a comfortable Polo/Ralph Lauren-theme experience.”

Rooms at the Canterbury range from $159 to $1,599 a night.

Woodard has a history of turning around older commercial properties, including the Stutz Motorcar Co. building at 100 N. Capitol Ave., which he bought in 1993, and the Ideal Motor Car Co. building at 217 W. 10th St., which he bought in 2001. Both are part of the Stutz Business Center, which was 95-percent occupied as of August 2009.

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