With airport hotel stalled, Hendricks County makes its move

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Hendricks County’s moves to entice a developer to build a conference hotel in Plainfield could further crimp plans for a hotel attached to the new Indianapolis International Airport terminal.

The Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau is offering up to 18 acres in Plainfield and a potentially lucrative government incentive package for the development of a 200-room hotel with meeting space at the intersection of Interstate 70 and Highway 267.

The group, which is funded with a county hotel tax, already owns a 10-acre site at the intersection and said it may buy another eight acres.

If a deal materializes, it probably would slow plans for a high-end airport hotel—but the Hendricks County property also could be vulnerable once an airport hotel is built, said Mark Eble, a hotel consultant and regional vice president in the local office of PKF Consulting.

The market for hotels is miserable—particularly for those near airports. Hotels near O’Hare in Chicago have seen revenues plummet by 20 to 30 percent this year, Eble said. But governments have a way of making things happen since developers are always willing to build with someone else’s money.

“It’s just a tough time to get anything done in the hotel world,” Eble said. “The things that are getting done are getting done with attractive incentives. It all depends on what the county offers.”

The Hendricks County group points to a study it commissioned from Wayzata, Minn.-based Conventions, Sports & Leisure International in 2008 that predicted the county could see an economic boost of $20.5 million in direct and indirect spending from a conference center and hotel.
But Eble said the study relies on numbers from 2007, “the best year for the hotel business in a generation.” So far 2009 has been the worst, he added.

The proposed hotel in Plainfield would be about the same size as one that was supposed to open at the airport this year, a $50-million, 250-room Westin attached to the terminal.

The airport authority in 2007 approved spending $8.8 million to help fund construction of the hotel, which would feature about 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The board had chosen locally based Mansur Real Estate Services from among three potential developers.

But the proposal derailed after Mayor Greg Ballard unseated Bart Peterson and installed a new regime to oversee the Indianapolis Airport Authority. While the new administration tried to put together its own deal, hotel occupancies fell and financing dried up for new projects.

“The biggest problem for the airport is traffic—it’s a beautiful facility and not enough airplanes are coming in,” Eble said.

The airport hotel would take at least 18 months to build, so it couldn’t open until 2011 at the earliest. Meanwhile, several new hotels already are opening near the Indianapolis airport, including a Hampton Inn & Suites and Hilton Garden Inn at the Interstate 70 airport exit. Another 300-room hotel is in the works as part of the Purdue Accelerator Park at Ameriplex Indianapolis, south of I-70 directly across from the terminal.

Susan Sullivan, a spokesman for the Indianapolis Airport Authority, said the airport is soliciting proposals to develop a land-use strategy but has no immediate plans for a hotel.

"We're going to be very deliberate and strategic about developing airport land," she said. "We're not in a rush."

Proposals for the potential Hendricks County hotel are due Dec. 10.

Officials with the HCCVB, including Executive Director Emory Lencke, did not return repeated phone messages or e-mails.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.