South-side businessman buys old hotel property

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A south-side businessman has purchased a highly visible site near Interstate 465 and U.S. 31 and is tearing down the hotel that's been there for decades to make way for a mixed-use development.

Jefferson Shreve, the founder of Storage Express and a city-county councilor, bought the nine acres in November at a lender-ordered auction.

Demolition of the hotel, at the southeast quadrant of the interstate and major thoroughfare, began in January and should be finished in the next month. The hotel last operated as an independent Cavalier’s Resort in 2011. It was developed by Jim Dora Sr. in 1966 as a Holiday Inn and later became a Ramada Inn.

Shreve’s plans call for an office building at the north end of the property to house the headquarters of the storage business he started in 1992, in addition to a self-storage facility. Storage Express develops and manages self-storage facilities in Indiana as well as Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. It has 87 locations.

The company's current headquarters is on U.S. 31, about a half-mile to the north.

Shreve envisions a hotel fronting U.S. 31 on some of the property and a restaurant, possibly a Cracker Barrel, on the rest.

“It’s a highly visible entry point to the south side," Shreve said. “It’s a piece of property that a lot of people are curious about.”

Shreve consulted with Sitehawk Retail Real Estate to help determine what might make sense for the site.  

“There is enough land for him to do his operations and still sell off the balance to another user such as Cracker Barrel or a restaurant that likes interstate exposure,” Sitehawk broker Steve Delaney said in an email.

Shreve doesn't plan to start construction on the 8,000-square-foot office building—3,000 square feet larger than his current facility—until he lines up users for the rest of the property.

“You’ve had this overgrown, boarded-up hotel there for the past four years,” Shreve said. “I think it would be a pretty ripe piece of property for something bright and new.”

As a city-county councilor, Shreve represents the portion of Perry Township where the blighted property is located.

Shreve paid a total of $1 million for it and two other properties in Illinois that were part of the online auction.

The property in Indianapolis lingered on the foreclosure list, as the Texas lender that held the mortgage on the property also collapsed. It then came under the control of a bank in Illinois that had acquired the assets of the failed Texas lender.

The Marion County Health Department ordered the hotel to be boarded up two years ago. Small fires had been set within the property by squatters, and others had stolen scrap copper and anything else of value.

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