The hospitality hotbed serving Indianapolis International Airport continues to pick up heat with Hendricks County’s first full-service hotel under construction in Plainfield and another lodging firm planning a new property nearby.
Indianapolis-based Sun Development & Management Corp. is building the $25 million Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center on eight acres southeast of the intersection of Perry and Clarks Creek roads, north of the Interstate 70 interchange with State Road 267.
The 175-room hotel will feature at least 5,000 square feet of meeting space and 20,000 square feet of conference rooms, in addition to a full-service restaurant. It should open by the end of the year.
Those amenities might be typical for hotels in downtown Indianapolis, but not in a smaller suburban market such as Hendricks County.
In addition, South Dakota-based My Place Hotel has filed a construction permit to build a 64-room extended-stay hotel on the west side of S.R. 267 (Quaker Boulevard), west of the Embassy Suites Hotel.
A representative of My Place Hotel couldn’t be reached for comment. The Plainfield location would be the company’s first in Indiana. Founded in 2012, My Place has 39 hotels in 20 states, according to its website.
Its co-founder and chairman, Ron Rivett, is a hotel veteran. He co-founded Super 8 Motels Inc. in 1974 and sold the chain in 1993.
Construction should begin by the end of the year, said Andrew Klinger, Plainfield’s town manager.
“I kind of suspected when [the Embassy Suites] announcement was made, there would be additional hotel announcements,” he said. “We’ve heard rumblings of other projects, too, but we haven’t received any plans yet.”
The I-70 and S.R. 267 interchange is a prominent western gateway for Indianapolis. Following the 2008 relocation of the Indianapolis International Airport terminal just up I-70, the interchange has become the primary lodging cluster for the airport with many nationwide brands within sight of one another. But it has lacked a full-service hotel with sizable banquet facilities.
The arrival of the Embassy Suites will enable tourism group Visit Hendricks County to book larger meetings—something it’s been unable to do, said Jaime Bohler Smith, the organization’s executive director.
“It allows our destination to be in different conversations when it comes to business,” she said. “It opens the door to larger conferences and meetings.”
The Indiana Tourism Conference, set next year for March 4-6 at the Embassy Suites in Plainfield, is the first big conference Visit Hendricks County has booked for the area.
Sun Development purchased the Palms Banquet Center, which closed in September and will serve as the hotel’s conference space. It should open in the summer, before the hotel's official debut. Sun is building the Embassy Suites adjacent to the banquet center, and the two properties will be connected.
“That project is something that our community has talked about for over 15 years,” Smith said. “It’s a particular lodging option that we don’t have.”
Hendricks County’s hotel occupancy rate since early 2017 has been at or above 70 percent, which the hospitality industry considers strong, Smith said. In addition, the county’s average daily room rate is at an all-time high, hovering around $100.
The two economic indicators bode well for the county’s growing hotel market.
“With our proximity to the airport, it will be the next place where you see a lot of development,” she said.
The Hendricks County Tourism Commission sold the eight acres to Sun Development and owns 10 more acres near the My Place Hotel site.
Most of the prime sites are taken, Klinger said, but he predicted the market can support more hotels.
Including the Embassy Suites, Plainfield boasts 18 hotels near the airport and 1,200 rooms, and that’s excluding the hotels in western Marion County on the east side of the airport, he said.
The cluster of hotels is on the north side of I-70. The south side is mostly farmland, except for the parcel where the small Cathedral of Prayer Baptist Church sits. The south side lacks utility access from the town, but Klinger said officials are working on that, to make the land attractive for development.
“You’ve got to imagine at some point they’ll be enticed by the dollars and sell off some acreage,” Klinger said of the family that owns the farmland.