City Center hotel’s name, brand could be known within weeks

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Carmel could unveil within weeks a name and brand concept for a unique, high-end hotel for City Center.

The city is hoping to open an Autograph Collection by Marriott hotel that would have 100 to 120 rooms and a ritzy, 4.5-star rating. The selling point for hotels in the Autograph Collection is that each is distinctive, with its own name, design and thematic elements.

Marriott launched Autograph in 2010 and has more than 65 U.S. and 50 international locations, but none are in Indiana. The Carmel hotel would be built between the Monon Trail and Veterans Way, just south of City Center Drive.

At a Carmel Redevelopment Commission meeting June 29, Executive Director Corrie Meyer said she expects hotel consultants hired by the city to have a name and brand ready within six weeks. They already have visited Carmel to start on the project, she said.

“They are starting their work and are getting going,” Meyer said.

In May, the CRC agreed to hire Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Coury Hospitality to help with hotel management consulting services and Kansas City, Missouri-based MMGY Global to develop the brand for the hotel.

The CRC is paying Coury Hospitality a recurring monthly stipend of $20,000 and MMGY a flat fee of $89,500.

At a meeting on May 25, the CRC approved a contract with Oklahoma City-based GSB Inc. Architects & Planners to design the hotel. That contract could eventually cost up to $743,006, but the CRC opted to only approve a portion of the agreement for the time being.

The city has still not determined the cost of the hotel, the financing strategy or who would eventually own it.

CRC member David Bowers, who is also senior vice president of business banking for Centier Bank, questioned on May 25 whether the CRC should continue investing in the project when the overall financial responsibility isn’t determined yet.

“It seems like we’re moving down a pretty fast path without having the basic questions answered,” Bowers said. “In essence, we’re running a hotel. We’re going to build and run a hotel. … And it’s just a lot of questions for me.”

CRC and City Council member Jeff Worrell said on May 25 that Mayor Jim Brainard is working on the financial terms, and the structure should be finalized soon.

“There is probably some risk to approving this that it might not happen, but I think that risk is low,” Worrell said.

Meyer told CRC members at the meeting that the details would be worked out once the design process was under way.

“We need to have an architect on board,” Meyer said.

The CRC approved the first three out of four phases of the contract with GSB, which will cost $337,452 and include 22 weeks of work. The fourth phase will require additional CRC approval.

It’s the second time Carmel has hired an architect for the hotel, which has been in the master plan for City Center for years. In August 2015, the CRC hired Washington, D.C.-based David M. Schwarz Architects Inc. to create initial designs for a hotel and possibly a conference center.

The $25,000 contract David M. Schwarz Architects, which also designed the Palladium, helped lay the groundwork for further planning. Meyer said GSB Inc. came recommended from Coury Hospitality.

“We want to build the right team for this hotel,” Meyer said.

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