Thursday’s 4-0 vote by the Evansville Redevelopment Commission in favor of the final development plan was a critical step, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said. He hopes to break ground in late fall.
“Someone asked me earlier, if this were a baseball game, what inning would we be in. I would say we’re in about the fourth inning,” Winnecke said. “But this was an important vote for the process to move forward.”
The total development project is about $74 million, with a public contribution of about $37.5 million. Of that, $20 million is to go toward the hotel, and the remaining $17.5 million is for a series of infrastructure projects. Those will include pedestrian bridges from the hotel to The Centre and the Ford Center, a parking garage and a building that will include retail space and a storage area for the Ford Center.
The hotel, a Hilton Doubletree, is to have approximately 253 rooms. It is to have a ballroom with just more than 6,000 square feet. That’s smaller than what the developer had initially proposed, according to city officials . . .
A Downtown hotel is needed to bring convention business back to the city, Winnecke has said. He told the Redevelopment Commission the project will create more than 800 construction jobs and about 250 permanent jobs . . .
"We have taken into account concerns that have raised by county government leadership,” Winnecke said. “We were very sensitive to reducing the amount of conference space or ballroom space inside the hotel so we have as little competition as possible with The Centre. What we feel is, we will be able to bring larger business to The Centre that will offset any small business they may lose. More weddings may be done in the hotel, as an example. But on the other hand, statewide conferences that would come into the convention hotel will certainly benefit The Centre.” . . .Bring convention business back to the city? Do these people actually believe Evansville is a tourist destination that can attract conventions? It's a 253-room hotel, Lloyd. Don't get too excited there. These private developers must go out for drinks after these public meetings and have a good laugh at how idiotic these rubes are who make public policy decisions in Indiana. It's like taking candy from a baby.