Three years after the mostly vacant King Cole building was adorned with a stylized wrap ahead of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the ground floor of the tower located a block from Monument Circle has been cloaked once more.
The street-level façade of the 11-story building at 1 N. Meridian St. was wrapped last week with a colorful basketball-themed covering ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 16-18, as part of a beautification effort from the Indianapolis Arts Council focused on vacant downtown storefronts.
Chicago-based developer The Gettys Group said in September 2019 that it would convert the King Cole building into a Motto hotel—a flag under the Hilton family of hotel brands. The original timeline was three years, but the effort to convert the terra cotta-covered, 122-year-old building into a 116-room Motto has shown little if any progress for many months.
After several recent inquiries from IBJ, The Gettys Group and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. provided short statements in the last week indicating that the project is still alive.
A spokesperson for Gettys declined to answer specific questions about the status of the project and a timeline for its completion. However, he said work is still happening behind the scenes to get the project off the ground once financing has been secured.
“Design and other work continue, so that when financing is in place, the project will move quickly,” said Rob Hunden, president of Chicago-based Hunden Partners and a representative for Gettys.
A spokesperson for Hilton said in an emailed statement that the hotelier still considers the project to be in active development.
“The Motto by Hilton hotel in Indianapolis is still planned, and Hilton is working closely with the property’s owners on an opening date,” the spokesperson said, adding that the project is one of 10 across Indianapolis in the hotelier’s development pipeline.
Original estimates pegged the cost of the hotel renovation to be $21 million, but by late 2022 that figure had ballooned to $54 million.
The project was approved by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission in 2019, when Gettys said it planned to complete the project within three years.
Like many construction and renovation projects slated for downtown, the project ran into delays due to the pandemic. And tightening lending conditions have made financing for such deals harder to obtain.
The developer must close on private financing for the project before it can receive $9.2 million from tax-increment financing bonds that the city of Indianapolis pledged for construction of the project in 2022.
Aside from the City-County Council’s approval in June to increase the maximum interest rate for the bonds from 5% to 8%, no action has been taken to issue the bonds that would provide the funds to The Gettys Group.
“The project has yet to close, so it hasn’t received funds from the city,” a DMD spokesperson told IBJ.
Work to repair broken windows on the second and eighth floors of the building was set to start this week, according to a permit application with the city. It was unclear whether the work proceeded in Tuesday’s frigid temperatures.
Crews performed masonry restoration work last summer.
The facade wrap unfurled last week was reminiscent of coverings applied when Indianapolis hosted most of NCAA’s men’s basketball tournament in spring 2021. Several empty retail spaces took on murals and wraps created by local artists.