From an article in the Indianapolis Star by Alexandria Burris, published May 10, 2022
Developers pitching a hotel project on South Meridian Street across from Shapiro’s Delicatessen have expanded their plans to propose a mixed-use development that now includes apartments and rooftop dining.
The amended pitch will comebefore the Regional Center Hearing Examiner on May 12.
Developer Russ Louderback, founder of The Louderback Group LLC, said several factors led to the project changes.
“We looked at the site; inflation; higher interest rates and the cost of land and decided to make the best use of land and reduce the cost per unit,” Louderback said in a statement. “We feel that the brand we selected is the very best product for hotels overall and needed in this area. The site was able to accommodate more than an extended stay hotel which led us to add a multifamily component and the rooftop experience.”
Initially, the petitioners behind the project — including well-known restaurateur Brian Shapiro — pitched a six-story hotel at the site located on land the Shapiro family owns near Lucas Oil Stadium.
According to documents filed with the city, the site had previously received Regional Center Approval for a proposed hotel and demolition of a one-story commercial building. Shapiro and Dora Hospitality announced plans to build a hotel at the site in 2019, initially aiming to place the EVEN Hotel, an boutique hotel and wellness brand from International Hotels Group, at the site.
Under the updated proposal, the planned hotel will now carry the Residence Inn by Marriott flag, an extended stay brand with 135 rooms.
The new plans include the addition of another floor on the building. Louderback said the first five floorswill be dedicated for hotel use and the top two floors are apartments that will double as furnished Airbnbs.
“COVID was not a friend to the hotel industry,” said Louderback, who previously worked for Merrillville-based White Lodging, owner of the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
Multifamily has been growing in popularity, he said, adding, “banks like mixed-use a little better since COVID began.”
Though the hotel industry is making a comeback from the pandemic, Louderback said lenders still want to see a period of growth, making it a bit too early for the singular hotel development.
As for the apartments, there will be 65 units, consisting mostly of studios with some one and two-bedroom units.
The developers negotiated the flag with Marriott which approved the hotel’s design, according to Louderback. The developmers wanted to create a new design that would have amore urban feel and attract extended stay, transient and Airbnb customers. The project site is near Eli Lilly & Co, the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium.
The property lies in an Opportunity Zone, a designation created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that allows for certain investments in low-income areas for tax advantages.
Vincent Dora of Fishers-based Dora Hospitality will be operating the project.
“The mixed-use development of hotel, apartments and rooftop will draw people into the neighborhood and will help spur further development in the area which will further enhance the entire south side of downtown,” Dora said in a statement.
A barista would be stationed in the hotel lobby to welcome guests. At the top of the hotel, diners will find outdoor and indoor dining at Sally’s Rooftop, accessible by a separate elevator. Plans include fire pits outside, a roof enclosure in the event of inclement weather and live music.
Louderback said the restaurant, which will be open to the public, will have a seating capacity of 140.
According to documents filed with the city, other amenities include a fitness facility, a meeting room and laundry facilities. An outdoor courtyard for hotel guests and a separate amenity yard for apartment residents would be located north of the building.
The current plans require a variance of development standards and a rezoning of the eastern portion of the site to permit the apartments.
The variance petition was granted on April 19. The rezoning petition was given preliminary approval by the Hearing Examiner on April 28. Final approval of the rezoning petition is anticipated in June 2022.
If the project is fully approved, construction is tentatively expected to start in the third quarter of this year, with the property opening in the first half of 2024. David Rausch & Associates is the architecture firm associated with the project.