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UPDATE: Marriott won't be open for Final Four

December 19, 2007
The newly redesigned, 1,000-room J.W. Marriott convention hotel won't be open when the Final Four comes to town in April 2010, as originally planned.

But it will available by April 2011, a delay caused by negotiations over design details, said Mike Wells, president of locally based REI Real Estate Services, which is developing the project with Merrillville-based White Lodging Services.

Wells said creating a new, curved building with a multi-colored glass curtain façade was worth the wait.

"You only have one opportunity to redevelop 10 acres in downtown," Wells said.

The revised project is taller and costlier than originally planned. The Marriott will have 34 stories, up from 29. And the entire project
- which includes three other hotels - will cost $425 million, up from $350 million. The
city's financial commitment remains at $48.5 million, with the developers picking up additional costs.

The other three hotels - a 250-room Courtyard by Marriott, a 168-room Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and 150-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott - all are scheduled to open in March 2010.

The city and developers have been hashing out details for months and expect to have a final deal signed by tomorrow afternoon. The Metropolitan Development Commission granted city officials permission today to sign the deal. Construction is slated to begin by June 2008.

Plans for condos on the top floors of the J.W. Marriott have been dropped. The revised plan has additional parking - 1,000 spaces in a three-level, underground garage beneath the anchor hotel, including some spaces that must be set aside for use by White River State Park facilities.

City officials and the developers released a summary of what they expect to be in the final agreement, including provisions requiring a "meaningful public art" effort and the possibility that the city will get a cut of the hotel's profits.

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