Business

‘Concrete cube,’ a former law office, transforming into Hotel Indy

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new boutique hotel is coming later this year to downtown.

The name is Hotel Indy, a name and purpose that doesn’t quite fit the exterior aesthetics of stark concrete and glass in the Brutalist movement. It looks more like a law office, which it was for the last 40 years, sitting at the corner of East Washington and Delaware streets next to the Julia M. Carson Transit Center and kitty-corner to the City-County Building.

But a number of changes are coming, no less major than taking what had been a five-story building for the last 52 years and adding a sixth story as part of a $30 million project to create 90 hotel rooms.

When complete, it will also have the city’s only rooftop bar downtown.

“We get to reap the benefits of turning basically a concrete cube into something warm and fuzzing on the inside,” said Tina Crawford, director of sales for Hotel Indy.

Throughout there’s an intentional nod to the city’s past and especially racing. The name of the rooftop bar is the Cannonball Lounge, named for the first winner in a motorized race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, motorcyclist Erwin “Cannonball” Baker.

The Hulman Restaurant on the ground floor sports a massive chandelier, which comes straight from the local historical society. Crawford said the light fixture hung about a century ago in the Globe Outlet, a variety store once near the hotel site in an area called the Wholesale District, part of the Brandon Block.

Crawford says the vision is to be a place that’s all things, well, Indy.

“There was a need for that,” she said. “A lot of people come into town but there’s not a hotel that talks to Indianapolis and what makes Indianapolis so great.”

Bob Schultz with Downtown Indy Inc. said there’s not too many hotel rooms. “Every time a hotel comes online, all the competitors up their game.”

That’s why he said Hotel Indy’s addition will be a good thing for consumers. “Indianapolis is still a very strong draw for conventions and it will be for the large-group business as well as leisure activities,” Schultz said.

While the City-County Building and the transit center haven’t been hubs of development, with the jail moving soon and the likely closure of the downtown heliport ahead, Schultz believes Hotel Indy is seizing that opportunity and could be the beginning of a resurgence in the area.

“When the jail moves out, a lot of the parcels become open. That’s prime development in downtown, and they’re going to be in the center of it all already,” he said.

That’s the idea from the developers, using a concrete cube that’s now six stories tall, not five, with a rooftop bar to boot.

“One little spark can spur lots of other things to happen so we hope to be that,” Crawford said.

The Hotel Indy will be a Tribute Portfolio by Marriott property.

It’s expected to open in October.

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