Cincinnati-based Jetha Group isn’t worried about bringing its first Indiana hotel to market less than a mile away from five other new hotels, and neither are Whitestown officials.
Sumeet Jetha, president of operations for Jetha Group, said the hotel development and management company is spending $14 million to build a roughly 64,000-square-foot Home2Suites by Hilton just off Interstate 65 near the Whitestown Parkway interchange. He’s hoping the 107-room, four-story, extended stay hotel at 6001 Perry Worth Road will be open a year from now.
“We were actually looking in the Keystone area for new sites,” Jetha said. “Then, we saw Duke [Realty] had a really good master plan out there and that convinced us. The entire master plan is really dense. Even the apartment complex behind the site, the box stores and the restaurants—everything is close-knit.”
In many ways, Jetha’s planned hotel looks similar to the three hotels already operating within a mile of each other and two others planned near the interchange.
The four-story, 92-room Hampton Inn at 6005 S. Main St. was the first hotel built as part of the Anson mixed-use development in 2014. Three years later, a four-story Holiday Inn Express brought 84 rooms to market across the street. Two years after that, the four-story Woodspring Suites opened 120 rooms at 6007 Perry Worth Road.
Looking ahead, two more hotels—a Fairfield Inn and Suites and a TownePlace Suites by Marriott—could bring 171 rooms next to the Hampton Inn over the next three years.
Despite the more than 570 rooms that would bring to the area, Jetha believes there’s still enough demand for hotels, like Home2Suites, that specialize in two- to three-week stays.
Nathan Messer, director of operations and economic development for Whitestown, said local government officials don’t have a target for the number of hotel rooms that should or shouldn’t be built.
“The free market kind of determines that,” Messer said. “Currently, there’s not an abundance of hotel rooms and they’re all getting plenty of attention. We just want to make sure we’re putting in a quality product.”
Both Messer and Jetha pointed to Little League International’s plans to open a central region headquarters in Whitestown in 2021 as a potential draw for visitors. Officials estimate those ballplayers and their families will book 800 room nights at local hotels.
Messer said the town is also working on additional projects that may increase local tourism, including Maurer Commons, the 135-acre former junkyard on the west side of I-65 that’s being developed into a mixed-use campus with indoor and outdoor recreational facilities and an amphitheater, among other uses . He said one hotelier pitched a 300-room hotel at that site. That’s bigger than what town officials are looking for, he said. Instead, they’d like to attract a smaller hotel with up to 10,000 square feet of event and meeting space.
Jetha said his company has developed around 15 hotels in the suburbs of Cincinnati and Dayton. Due to restrictions brought on by the spread of the novel coronavirus, he’s had to furlough 10-15 employees at each of those hotels.
“We can all estimate when this thing will be over, but nobody is sure,” Jetha said. “We’ve considered every single option for not only this project, but for all of our existing hotels.”
Despite those concerns, he’s confident Jetha Group hasn’t over-leveraged its assets and that it can continue expanding in an uncertain time.
“While the economy is down, we can hopefully keep building and open when the economy has recovered,” he said.