$120M expansion planned for Indiana Convention Center

The investment could generate up to $1.1 billion in future economic impact for the region and state. Photo credit: Getty Images/Sean Pavone

An expansion has been approved for Indianapolis' Indiana Convention Center, which will add 50,000 square feet of event space and two new hotel towers to the city’s hospitality inventory.

Once opened, the new ballroom is set to be the largest in the state of Indiana, and the new hotel towers will increase Indianapolis’ hotel supply to more than 6,100 guestrooms.

The city’s Capital Investment Board of Managers unanimously chose to commence negotiations with a local development team on the expansion of Indianapolis’ Pan Am Plaza. This will be the sixth expansion of the structure since the Indiana Convention Center opened in 1972.

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In addition to an existing commercial office building, Kite Realty Group Trust proposed adding two hotels to the property: A 38-story tower outfitted with retail space and a rooftop bar, and a second tower on the opposite corner of the block. Both hotels are expected to be affiliated with Hilton brands, and will consist of a total of 1,400 guestrooms.

“The combination of what will be the state’s largest ballroom and two additional hotel towers connected by enclosed skywalk will transform our ability to secure major new events that have never been held in Indy,” Leonard Hoops, president and CEO of Visit Indy, said in a statement. “It also gives us the capacity to better host multiple citywide conventions at the same time and help us retain nearly $300 million in annual convention and event business.”

Currently, the Indiana Convention Center offers three ballrooms consisting of a combined 61,000 square feet of event space. Hoops argued that additional space is necessary, citing a loss of more than 200 conventions and events since 2010 due to the city’s lower guestroom and event space inventory. Hoops said that once completed, the updated convention center could generate up to $1.1 billion in future economic impact for the region and state.

The project is budgeted at $120 million, and includes public infrastructure improvements and the development of a new publicly owned facility and connector. These determinations were reached following two years of research commissioned by Visit Indy, as well as a 10-month bidding process between more than 40 developers.

“We received three extremely competitive proposals that all satisfied the requirements of the RFI,” Melina Kennedy, president of the CIB Board, said in a statement. “The proposal selected best activates the south side of the Indiana Convention Center given its high-profile location and direct connection across Capitol Avenue. We believe both of these components are crucial to our continued success as a convention and events destination.”

A timeline for the project is not yet available, though Kite is expected to obtain the necessary approvals for development by some time in 2019.