Cities don't often get the opportunity to redefine their skylines. Indianapolis leaders had that chance this week but passed.
Instead of selecting a boldly designed InterContinental Hotel that would have become a focal centerpiece for the city, a seven-member committee chose a bland cluster of Marriott-brand hotels that could fit anywhere from suburban Chicago to downtown Boise.
The InterContinental would have been distinctive. The Marriott is merely safe.
The winning hotel's design may be polished a bit between now and groundbreaking. But developers will be working under a tight deadline because city leaders insist they want the new hotel operating before the 2010 NCAA Men's Final Four.
So the probability is high for construction of another functional but boring Downtown box.
The editorial speaks nothing about the possibility taxpayers may be asked to subsidize the project up to $55 million. While the InterContinental proposal was no doubt more flashier, it may have been just another pipe dream of the developer, just like the failed Market Square Tower project. The committee studying the proposals knew the Marriott project was a go immediately. The developer of the Marriott has also said it was willing to spruce up its building's design.
According to the Star, the Marriott's developer may be seeking up to $40 million in assistance from the city for the skywalk connecting it to the convention center and the big ballroom the city insisted the new hotel must have. Perhaps that's less than what the InterContinental may have sought, but it's still a lot of money. That public assistance for a hotel the developer told the city it was going to build whether the city chose its proposal is what the Star's editor's should be concerned about. I don't recall the Star's editors complaining about the $20-$25 million the city dumped into the Conrad Hilton and Simon headquarters buildings--two "boring Downtown box[es]" to use the Star's words.