Airport seeks plans for on-site first class hotel

Indianapolis International Airport

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There were always plans to build an on-site hotel at Indianapolis International Airport which opened ten years ago this month, but the Great Recession of 2008 got in the way.

Now, the Indianapolis Airport Authority has released a Request for Expression of Interest to determine if developers want to build a hotel that, “shall be modern, sophisticated and comfortable, with high end finishes to provide an attractive, welcoming presentation to corporate or leisure guests who expect high quality accommodations.”

“We did a pre-proposal meeting yesterday and it seemed like there was a lot of interest from all of the industry and not just from developer industry but architectural, engineering and all of the professional services that are associated with developing a hotel,” said IAA Executive Director Mario Rodriquez, fresh off an announcement by Infosys that the high tech company planned to develop the former airport’s terminal site and bring 3000 jobs to Indianapolis’ westside.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that the community at large wants more development, more economic impact and wants a larger tax base,” said Rodriquez.  “There’s always a right time for everything and we’re gauging to see if this is the right time. We believe because of the economy, we believe because of all the development around the airport and we believe because of the amount of passengers that we’re getting and non-stop destinations that this is the right time.”

Delta will soon begin non-stop service between Indianapolis and Paris and 51 non-stops already operate daily of out IND.

IAA’s REI envisions a proposed hotel that would include, “meeting spaces with the highest degree of technology available and superior furnishings, local food, and beverage offerings including an upscale restaurant as well as conveniences expected by airport patrons such as coffee/juice bar and a retail/gift shop.”

Rodriquez said judging by the strong feedback from potential developers, “three years from today…if all the stars align and we get a proper proposal and developer proposal, you’re probably gonna see a hotel in the finishing phases of construction to finished complete.”

The convention and tourism industry is crucial to central Indiana’s economy, providing paychecks worth $2.6 billion to 80,000 workers, according to Visit Indy.

“The city hosts more than 550 conventions a year. Some of them are 75 thousand, some of them are 750,” said Visit Indy  Senior Vice President Chris Gahl.  “On a daily basis we’re going against Las Vegas, New York, Denver, so its important to us that we keep competitive.”

Gahl said downtown needs a new hotel, too.

“One of the things we’ve heard from a number of our conventions that have come back again and again is, ‘How many hotel rooms will you have on line by this year?’” said Gahl.  “We’ve done a feasibility study over a two year period. We know that there’s significant demand to put another 800-1000 room hotel in to the downtown, most likely connected to the convention center.

“We need more hotels and fortunately we’re relieved to say, ‘Yes, the city’s headed in the right direction of putting significantly more hotels in the pipeline, into downtown within walking distance if not connected to the center,’ and that will help retain business and grow business.”

The IAA has set a June 28 deadline for developers to express their interest in building an airport hotel.

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