Inside INdiana Business

Indy council OKs convention center expansion

(rendering courtesy of Kite Realty Group)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indianapolis City-County Council has unanimously approved financing for the $125 million expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. The funding will cover a new, 50,000-square-foot ballroom at the current site of the Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indianapolis, as well as a pedestrian skybridge to connect the ballroom with the existing convention center space.

The council approved $155 million in bonds for the project, which will cover construction costs, as well as financing costs and capitalized interest.

The overall transformation of the Pan Am Plaza site also includes the construction of two new hotels. However, Indianapolis-based developer Kite Realty Group Trust Inc. (NYSE: KRG) says the hotels will be financed with private funding.

In a statement Monday evening, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett called the council’s approval a “major milestone for the future of our downtown.”

“Through an innovative partnership between the Capital Improvement Board and Kite Realty Group, this sixth convention center expansion will create thousands of construction and hospitality jobs, while positioning Indianapolis for growth as we emerge from a global pandemic,” said Hogsett. “Indianapolis has a successful track record of aiming high even under challenging circumstances, and I am excited for this development to join those ranks.”

The city says the bonds will be repaid using downtown Tax Increment Financing funds generated from the first hotel, as well as TIF funds that typically go to the CIB.

The first hotel planned for the project is a 42-level, 800-room Signia Hilton hotel, which isn’t expected to open until at least 2024. Construction on the second hotel, a 23-level building with about 600 rooms, will not begin until at least two years after the first hotel opens.

Plans for the convention center expansion and new hotels were first announced in 2018. At the time, Visit Indy Chief Executive Officer Leonard Hoops said the promise of a larger convention center led to several major conventions, including Gen Con, deciding to stay in Indy.