Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Downtown Plants Its' Tree ; HOTEL GROUNDBREAKING the Hotel's Construction Should Be Finished in Late 2015

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Downtown Plants Its' Tree ; HOTEL GROUNDBREAKING the Hotel's Construction Should Be Finished in Late 2015

Article excerpt

Five years after the decaying Executive Inn in Downtown Evansville was permanently closed, officials on Monday broke ground for construction of its successor, a 257-room Hilton DoubleTree hotel. Construction on the $71.3 million development is expected to take 18 months, placing the opening in the second half of 2015. The project includes a hotel, an apartment complex, a parking garage and sky bridges.

A few hundred people gathered under a tent at the construction site at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Walnut Street to see local officials turn dirt.

"This shows the community excitement for this project, and hopefully another one we're going to build right across the street from it," Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said, referring to the hotel and the possibility Indiana University will build its expanded medical school at a Downtown site.

The hotel plan moved forward last year after several weeks of debate, mostly about its level of public financing. When the City Council's majority chose to cap the public subsidy at $20 million - $17.5 million less than what the Winnecke administration wanted - Old National Bank came forward with a commitment to fund up to $14 million.

Both Winnecke and Rick Huffman, CEO of HCW, praised Old National's involvement. Old National, said Huffman, "saved the project."

Winnecke praised the city's business and labor communities and the City Council for their roles in advancing the hotel project. "That's what it's about, community collaboration to make positive progress for our city."

Huffman, in an interview, said his company's financing for the project has been secured. He pointed to a group of bankers in attendance at the groundbreaking and said, "These guys loaned the money."

Huffman said HCW, whose primary headquarters is in Branson, Mo., is excited about the Evansville hotel's business potential. …

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