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2018 Year in Review: Two new hotels, convention center expansion planned

December 28, 2018
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The $120 million addition to the Indiana Convention Center would be publicly funded; the two Hilton-brand hotels would be privately developed. (Rendering courtesy of Kite Realty Group)

Coming soon to Pan Am Plaza: a $120 million publicly funded addition to the Indiana Convention Center and two Hilton-brand hotels privately developed by Kite Realty Group.

The hotels will together have 1,400 rooms, and the development is expected to invigorate the once-celebrated Pan Am Plaza. The bigger hotel, which will have 38 stories and 800 rooms and be built at the northeast corner of the plaza at Illinois and Georgia Street, will be the city’s second-largest hotel behind the 1,005-room JW Marriott that opened in 2011. The second hotel will have 600 rooms.

News of the development, which has been endorsed by Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration and the Capital Improvement Board, comes as downtown is expecting a flurry of new hotel activity.

Another dozen downtown hotels with a combined 2,800 rooms are expected to come online in the next five years. But tourism leaders have said they need a convention hotel—one with a significant block of rooms connected to a large amount of meeting space—to be attractive to the largest events.

Chris Gahl, vice president of communications for Visit Indy, told IBJ the city is “in jeopardy” of losing conventions—including the Performance Racing Industry Show, the FDIC convention, Gen Con, FFA and others—if hotel inventory and ballroom capacity don’t increase.

The proposal will still need to be approved by the City-County Council, and city officials have not ruled out asking the state to help fund a portion. However, the city has said the $120 million for the convention center expansion will come from tax increment financing.

Pan Am Plaza was built for the Pan American Games, hosted by the city in 1987—and includes an office building, which will remain, on the northwest corner of the block. The rest of the plaza is largely unused. It sits over an underground, dilapidated parking garage and was for years home to an indoor ice rink.•

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