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Downtown Redevelopment Partners Planning a $16 million Hotel Indigo
 Near the Bloomington, Indiana Downtown Convention Center
By Sarah Morin, Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 13, 2007 - Plans for a new 105-room boutique-style hotel and restaurant are creating a big business buzz in the southern part of downtown Bloomington.

One of the developers of the site, Peter Dvorak, announced details of the plans Monday.

Call it SoCo -- the section of South College Avenue south of Third Street, targeted as an up-and-coming corridor. A certain local rock star and his model wife snatched up nearby property on Walnut Street this summer to open a gallery.

The hope is Hotel Indigo, at 301 S. College Ave., and other redevelopment projects such as the Mellencamp gallery will boost the area overrun and undervalued by surface parking lots and abandoned buildings with "For Sale" signs.

If approved next month, a 65-foot-tall brick and limestone Hotel Indigo will replace an old tire store and karate center.

Total costs of Hotel Indigo are estimated at $16 million to $17 million. The goal is to break ground next spring and open in spring 2009, in time for the spring Indiana University graduation. Room rates are expected to start at $120 a night.

Dvorak, a partner with Downtown Redevelopment Partners, which owns the land, said the hotel is a perfect fit for the downtown, calling the two "unique and eclectic."

The hotel's design concept is rooted in the universal constant called the Gold Mean, or Phi, a mathematical ratio found in nature. And the decor will change with the seasons, with new area rugs and nature-based photographs and art.

Dvorak hopes the hotel will serve as a catalyst for development of the area -- and some is already under way.

"We see this as timing well with the city's vision for the whole area south of Third," he said.

That vision focuses on attracting arts and tourism.

The hotel is within the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District and will feature a five-story exterior canvas showcasing giant prints of photographs from local artists.

And across the street is the Bloomington and Monroe County Convention Center and Courtyard by Marriott.

Future partnerships with the convention center such as a skywalk connecting the two buildings are possible, Dvorak said. That was the plan last year, but the project was scaled back because possible outside funding sources didn't come through, he said.

Talisha Coppock, executive director of Downtown Bloomington Inc. in the convention center, is glad to hear the building buzz.

"We're just so excited to see this redevelopment," she said. "It's been a long time coming. (There's) not a lot going on in this portion of downtown."

The convention center redeveloped the old Ford Model-T factory turned dealership in 1991 and the Courtyard by Marriott came five years later, Coppock said.

She said expanding the convention center -- the smallest in the state with 22,000 square feet of actual space -- is a good next step, but is on hold until funding becomes available.

While the southern portion of downtown saw little action, other areas bursted with redevelopment, such as the crop of new apartment buildings to the north on College Avenue.

Now that's changing with plans for the Hotel Indigo, the Mellencamp studio and Midtown Apartments on Smith Avenue.

The South College corridor is not only in the BEAD arts district, but is also close to the B-Line Trail, a planned multi-use path following a former railroad line through downtown with art and plaza space.

And more redevelopment plans for the area from Dvorak's team are expected. Adjacent land has been purchased.

Hotel Indigo could be built out to the south and another hotel could be built to the east on the NAPA car parts site.

Dvorak said the project organizers are seeking tax credits from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. They are requesting that the city vacate an alley near the site, but they are not asking the city for additional financial assistance such as tax abatements at this time.

HOTEL INDIGO FACTS

WHAT: Boutique-style hotel with changing decor and features to reflect the seasons.

WHERE: 1.3 acres at 301 S. College Ave.

WHO: Peter Dvorak, CEO of Pinnacle Properties, is a partner in Downtown Redevelopment Partners, which owns the site.

HEIGHT: 65 feet, five floors.

WHAT'S INSIDE: 105 rooms, fitness room, pool, meeting space and Golden Bean restaurant and PHI bar for a total of 71,638 square feet.

HOW MUCH: $16 million to $17 million.

TO BE HEARD: Bloomington Plan Commission on Dec. 10.

WHEN IT STARTS: Break ground spring 2008 and open spring 2009.

WHAT'S NEXT: Additional phases may include expanding Hotel Indigo to the south and building a second hotel to the east.

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To see more of the Herald-Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.hoosiertimes.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.

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