INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The first piece of a massive $300 million, downtown development on Massachusetts Avenue is just days away from opening.
The Bottleworks Hotel is set to open Dec. 15, right in the middle of a pandemic. That’s what makes everyone connected to this very excited and also a little nervous.
It involves the iconic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant on Mass Ave and 10th Street, which was built in 1931.
Beginning in 1950, the building housed the largest bottling plant not just in America but the world. Now, it’s preparing for a new phase, to become the hotel.
General Manager Amy Isbell-Williams took News 8 on an exclusive tour.
“If we’re not going to open now, when? We’re not going to wait for this to end in order to open this hotel. Better to open it now and be able to really rise to the occasion,” she said.
There are some red Coca-Cola bottle caps still in the wall of the quirky event space aptly known as the Lab. It’s one of several rooms with original photos ready to go on the wall as finishing touches.
Most of the tile in the lobby is original and what couldn’t be salvaged was carefully matched. It’s not easy color-matching considering smoking was allowed here for the first 40 years.
“That just goes to show you the detail that we put into this,” Isbell-Williams said. “We weren’t going to take the easy way out. We’re going to do it right. We’re going to do it in an authentic way.”
The room numbers which are lights are a fun touch.
The red doors of the 139 rooms are a subtle nod to the Coca-Cola history.
“All rooms are different, this being a historic building,” Isbell-Williams said.
Step 2 is The Garage Food Hall across the street. It aims to have more than 20 vendors. One of them is George Muñoz, owner of Festiva, a restaurant on 16th Street.
“Indianapolis has never seen anything like this,” Muñoz said. “Wish the timing was better.”
He’s opening La Chinita Poblana in the Garage next month. Fans might recognize the name as the same as the restaurant he owned in Broad Ripple for 5 years before coming to Festiva.
He signed the paperwork for the Garage Food Hall almost two years ago.
“I tell you, I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights over it,” Muñoz said. “If you say you’re not worried, you’re ignorant or your mind is someplace else. That’s the scariest part for me, opening right in the middle of a pandemic.”
Still, he thinks he would do it again if he had to sign today. He’s drawn by the unique opportunity, the lesser risk which is shared with other vendors and its proximity to his current restaurant.
“For right now, you want to keep your head above water so when things do change, you’re ready to go and move really quick,” he said.
But even Wednesday, there’s a little more hope with health officials saying 100 million could be vaccinated by February.
“If you’re not excited doing something new and different, this isn’t the business for you,” Muñoz said with a laugh.
The Bottleworks District is made up of 17 buildings on 12 acres. Future phases to open in future years include 180,000 square feet of office space, 175,000 square feet of retail space and about 175 apartments and about 35 condos.