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Faulkner, Whiteco and Starwood/Host Marriot Among Five Entities
Submitting Proposals to City of Indianapolis for a 800 room
Downtown Hotel


By Norm Heikens and J.K. Wall, The Indianapolis Star
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

April 5, 2006 - Five companies on Monday submitted their visions for a new hotel to the Indianapolis Local Public Bond Bank, the government entity that previously financed the Conrad hotel, the Artsgarden and other Downtown projects.

The bond bank solicited the development ideas to attract a hotel with at least 800 rooms, which would make it the largest in town. City officials want the additional hotel rooms to house more visitors once an expanded Indiana Convention Center opens in 2010.

Bond Bank officials say they haven't opened the packages, which arrived at the close of business Monday.

But Executive Director Barbara Lawrence said four of the five parties have ties to Indianapolis.

"We wanted the private sector to determine their interest," Lawrence said. "I think we're going to see a lot of good proposals."
Responses were submitted by:

Faulkner USA of Austin, Texas. Faulkner designs and constructs buildings ranging from hotels to prisons. It has developed at least six hotels, including the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio and Hilton Vancouver in Canada.

Whiteco Industries of Merrillville, which is controlled by billionaire Dean White. It owns 20 hotels in Indiana, including eight in the Indianapolis area. Partnering with Whiteco is REI Real Estate Services of Indianapolis, which developed the Emmis Communications headquarters and co-developed the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown hotel.

Browning Marcus Joint Venture of Indianapolis. The venture is led by Michael Browning, a real estate developer who has worked on many past Downtown projects, including the Capital Center and the Downtown Marriott.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide of White Plains, N.Y., and Host Marriott of Bethesda, Md. Host Marriott owns more than 100 hotels under various nameplates, including Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn and Springhill Suites. Starwood owns 730 hotels under such names as Westin, Four Points and Sheraton.

American Dream Endeavors of Indianapolis, a one-man operation of Tim Watson, a former dentist who has no development experience.

The Bond Bank declined to release details of the proposals. And most of the companies were unavailable for comment.

But Browning confirmed he plans to build a 44-story tower on Pan Am Plaza, which sits across the street from the RCA Dome. The hotel would include 1,000 rooms and 72 residential units.
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DOWNTOWN'S LARGEST HOTELS
1. Indianapolis Marriott, 350 W. Maryland St., 615 rooms.
2. The Westin, 50 S. Capitol Ave., 573 rooms.
3. Hyatt Regency, 1 S. Capitol Ave., 497 rooms.
4. Omni Severin, 40 W. Jackson Place, 424 rooms.
5. Radisson Hotel City Centre, 31 W. Ohio St., 374 rooms.
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Browning has an option to buy the plaza from Indiana Sports Corp. but still would need to acquire and rebuild the parking garage under the plaza.

That part would require some public assistance. He estimates the project would cost roughly $250 million.

The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association wants to be able to attract bigger conventions, and host multiple conventions simultaneously. But to do so, said spokesman Bob Schultz, the city needs another hotel to serve as a headquarters for most or all of a convention's attendees.

Right now, large conventions use a combination of Downtown's three largest hotels -- the Hyatt, the Westin and the Marriott -- as headquarters.

To make way for an expanded Convention Center, the RCA Dome will be razed in 2008 after Lucas Oil Stadium is completed.

The hotel project is unusual, Lawrence said, because the city has no specific site to offer developers. The city wanted to see what sites developers think are feasible. She would not discuss sites the city thinks are the most promising.

However, Lawrence said that if the city supported a particular proposal, it would need to be connected to the convention center as well as Circle Centre mall and other Downtown buildings. It also should include extra uses, such as retail. It's too early to know, she said, if the city would offer incentives.

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To see more of The Indianapolis Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.IndyStar.com.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Indianapolis Star

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