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San Francisco firm converting historic downtown office building into hotel

December 14, 2017
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One North Penn (IBJ photo/Scott Olson)

A San Francisco-based hospitality company has agreed to convert the 109-year-old One North Penn building downtown into a 130-room hotel.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants announced Thursday morning the deal with locally based building owner Loftus Robinson LLC to bring its first hotel to the city. The hotel is set to open in early 2020.

The project is intended to turn the 16-story building, at the northeast corner of Washington and Pennsylvania streets, into a hotel with a signature restaurant, rooftop bar and more than 5,000 square feet of meeting space.

Work on the project is expected to begin in mid-2018. Kimpton declined to reveal the cost of the conversion.

“Opening a new hotel and restaurant in Indianapolis is an important milestone for us,” Kimpton CEO Mike DeFrino said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to introduce our brand of heartfelt hospitality to a new group of guests.”

Kimpton operates more than 60 hotels in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean and touts itself as the “industry pioneer” of boutique hotels, opening its first property in 1981.

The Indianapolis project is an adaptive reuse of the historic Odd Fellows Building, opened in 1908 and designed by prolific local architects Rubush & Hunter. It was the first high-rise building in the city and used primarily as office space following its opening.  

Loftus Robinson in late March acquired the building from Hollywood, Florida-based Naya USA Investment & Management LLC, which owned the building for just more than a year.

Naya USA bought the 109-year-old tower in February 2016 from Albert M. Donato III—the son of Albert M. Donato Jr., the longtime CEO of the Acorn Group real estate firm, who died in 2012. The late Donato led a group that acquired the building in 1992 and renovated it.

“We visited many Kimpton hotels and were very impressed with the brand experience,” Drew Loftus, a co-founder of Loftus Robinson, said in a press release. “Their creative approach to hospitality is a great fit for our company, and the timing is right for the city of Indianapolis.”

One North Penn no longer has any office tenants, Loftus said, and plans are in place to relocate its remaining ground-floor retail tenants. Centier Bank anchors the corner, and Pita Pit is located along the Washington Street side.

At 212 feet, One North Penn was the tallest building in Indianapolis when it opened in 1908. The 245-foot Merchants National Bank Building at Meridian and Washington streets, now known as the Barnes and Thornburg Building, surpassed it in 1909.

Kimpton will be the second hotel brand coming to the high-traffic intersection of Pennsylvania and Washington streets.

St. Louis-based Drury Hotels chain announced in February 2016 its plans to build a 350-room hotel by renovating the IBJ Media building at the southwest corner of the intersection and constructing a tower on the adjacent parking lot.

The sale of the property to Drury includes the adjacent surface lot to the west, where Drury would build a parking garage and tower of rooms as tall as 17 stories.

And a block to the south, New Orleans-based HRI Properties is building an $81.4 million dual-brand Hyatt hotel building across from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The 15-story, 316-room complex is a combination of a 186-room hotel in the Hyatt Place brand and a 130-room property in the Hyatt House brand.

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