Hotels, restaurants part of possible Pan Am redevelopment

Published: .
Updated: .

Plans are in the works to redevelop Pan Am Plaza, possibly with two hotels, restaurants and retail.

Pan Am Plaza, which is bordered by Capitol Avenue, Georgia Street, Illinois Street and the Crown Plaza Hotel, is owned by Indianapolis-based Kite Realty. It bought the plaza and skating rink along Georgia Street a few years ago with the intention of redeveloping it.

"Kite Realty shared the preliminary plans with Visit Indy and we're intrigued by those," Chris Gahl with Visit Indy said.

Gahl wouldn't share specifics, nor would Kite Realty, but Gahl said of the site, "it's a logical location for many things and one of which is a future hotel development."

Pan Am Plaza sits across from the Indiana Convention Center and is a drop kick away from Lucas Oil Stadium.

It was one of the sites proposed for a new convention center headquarter hotel several years ago, with the 1,001-room JW Marriott Hotel getting the nod.

Kite has floated the plans as Indianapolis makes a go at hosting another Super Bowl. Indianapolis is one of three finalists competing for the 2018 game. The NFL owners will chose the winning city in mid-May.

"Would (the new hotels) enhance the bid? Sure. Is it necessary? Absolutely not," Gahl said, noting the city exceeded the number of rooms required to bid.

The bigger question is, can the city support another hotel? Gahl said that's sure to prompt "healthy debate," adding "when and how many rooms (the city can support) has yet to be determined."

Bill French, works for Cassidy Turley, which specializes in commercial real estate, believes the city is ready for another hotel.

"Every time I've heard that (question), I've seen new concepts come to market and more attention to the market place. And if they build the right hotel, you'll see more business coming in," French said.

On top of that, he says the economy is on the rebound.

"Now is an excellent time, interest rates are low and there's 'pent-up demand' for new development," he said.

But it's tricky. While Kite owns the plaza and one skating rink, now closed, it doesn't own the underground parking garage or the tower.

Would it need to acquire those properties? No one's saying.

Kite isn't the only one eager to develop the property.

"Being right in the middle of the convention and tourism industry makes it a very valuable piece of property," said mayoral spokesman Marc Lotter. "We would like to see it developed when the timing is right and with a focus that can help us attract additional conventions and convention-goers to the city."