An airport board on Friday is expected to consider moving ahead with a franchise agreement for a proposed hotel at the Indianapolis International Airport that would carry Marriott International Inc.’s Westin flag.
According to a board meeting agenda item filed by the Indianapolis Airport Authority on Tuesday, airport officials have come to preliminary terms with Marriott on a franchise agreement for a hotel to be built on the west side of the terminal parking garage.
According to public filings, “negotiations with Mariott International Inc. are substantially completed.” The board’s approval on Friday would allow the airport’s executive director to sign the franchise agreement with Marriott.
Airport officials have flirted with the idea of locating a hotel next to the terminal since planning for the current midfield complex began in the early 2000s. Friday’s board meeting will mark the peak of accelerated interest in such a project over the last year.
In late 2022, the authority authorized a feasibility study for an airport-connected lodging property. So far, the authority has spent a total of nearly $3.4 million authorizing a series of contracts for the project, including with CSO Inc. for architectural services ($2.56 million), the Louderback Group for hotel consulting services ($254,300), and Shiel Sexton Co. Inc. for construction management and pre-construction services ($225,000).
Many specifics for the hotel project—including cost and building height—are still being determined. But in a statement to IBJ Wednesday morning, airport officials confirmed the hotel would be four-star with 262 rooms and would be attached to the airport parking garage just west of the terminal.
As part of its agreement with Marriott, the airport would have the right to terminate the deal if it can’t obtain adequate financing to construct the hotel.
Indianapolis Airport Authority staff considered both Marriott and Hilton for the hotel flag, but ultimately selected the Westin brand. It’s considered one of Marriott’s mid- to upper-scale brands.
“IAA Staff was looking for a brand that could appropriately highlight the [four-star or better] quality of the facility, had a strong interest in affiliating with the Indianapolis International Airport, and provide a robust ‘honors’ program that will help drive bookings,” a staff report associated with the agenda item said.
The report said Westin was selected based on its interviews and a recommendation from The Louderback Group, which is also developing a Marriott-flag Residence Inn alongside Shapiro’s Delicatessen owner Brian Shapiro and local firm Dora Hospitality Group on the south end of downtown.
If the Marriott agreement is approved by the board, airport officials are expected to begin meeting with the hotel chain about the property’s design on Sept. 21.
The airport on Friday will also consider a technical services contract with Wischermann Partners, in the amount of $168,000. Wischermann Partners was recommended by an internal committee to manage the hotel when it opens.
However, the airport authority is continuing to negotiate that contract—which would have a separate cost—with the Minneapolis-based firm, citing discussions about incentives and the hotel’s pre-opening services budget, among other items. In the interim, Wischermann will only be involved in technical matters related to the hotel.
“This is a continued next step as the Indianapolis Airport Authority determines the financial feasibility of the terminal connected hotel project at Indianapolis International Airport,” airport officials said in written comments. “The Indianapolis Airport Authority is currently furthering designs of this project to develop a guaranteed maximum price. This information, along with additional considerations for both costs and revenues, will determine the financial plan, and if the Indianapolis Airport Authority decides to move forward with constructing the hotel.”