|By Rod Spaw, Herald-Times, Bloomington,
Ind.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 17, 2012--A 168-room Hyatt Place hotel is being eyed for property on West Kirkwood Avenue between the Chase Bank building and the B-Line Trail.
REI Investments filed an application this week with the Bloomington Planning Department for site plan review of the proposed hotel at 217 W. Kirkwood Ave., which is across the street from the Irish Lion and Crazy Horse restaurants. The Carmel company also developed the Hilton Garden Inn at College Avenue and Seventh Street.
Jeremy Stephenson, vice president of development for REI, said the project would create 50 permanent jobs and have a capital investment of $25 million to $27 million.
According to documents filed with the city, the hotel would occupy property bounded by Kirkwood, Gentry Street, Fourth Street and the B-Line Trail. The land currently is used for surface parking. The only structure on the property, which is owned by CFC Inc., is a narrow building that once housed drive-through banking services.
The hotel would be three stories tall adjacent to the B-Line, and the building would rise to seven stories along Gentry Street. The lobby and main entrance would be at Kirkwood and Gentry, according to the proposed site plan.
Building diagrams indicate the hotel would contain meeting rooms, an indoor pool and a fitness center. A coffee bar/dining area would cater primarily to hotel guests, Stephenson said, and an outdoor seating area would be created next to the B-Line, which also would be connected to the hotel by a side path off the trail.
The hotel would have a total of 130 indoor parking spaces on two levels, accessible by a ramp off Gentry Street.
The Bloomington Plan Commission is scheduled to review the proposal on Sept. 10. The land is properly zoned for a hotel, but the commission will have to approve a site plan for the project. City Planning Director Tom Micuda said the Bloomington City Council also will have to approve vacation of an unimproved right-of-way through the property before the project can go forward.
The Hyatt Place project is the second hotel proposed for downtown this year. A SpringHill Suites by Marriott received a green light from city officials this spring. Construction of the $17 million, 155-room hotel was approved for the northwest corner of College Avenue and Ninth Street.
The addition of more than 300 hotel rooms downtown should help close what a consultant to the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center said last year was a deficiency of rooms that discouraged some groups from bringing meetings to Bloomington.
Stephenson said REI agrees there is need for more hotel rooms downtown, which he said could attract new business for the convention center. He said that would expand the economic benefit of REI's project beyond the direct capital investment.
Hyatt promotes its Hyatt Place brand as offering an array of services for business travelers and families, including meeting rooms for small corporate events. Stephenson said the brand is not considered a full-service hotel, which is what the convention center consultant recommended should be developed in conjunction with any future expansion of the convention center.
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