Hotel Groundbreaking Delayed: No new date announced

Local Government Team Photo: A Flock of SNEGALS
Local Government Team Photo: A Flock of SMEGALS

The prematurely scheduled groundbreaking for the downtown convention hotel project will be pushed back, the Redevelopment Commission was told this morning. A new date has not been set.

Construction of the hotel, a 257-room Hilton DoubleTree, is expected to take about 18 months and no permits to start construction have been issued to date. The overall project is to cost about $71 million, and it is to include the hotel, apartments, a parking garage, sky bridges and renovations to the convention center.

The City Council last year agreed to sell bonds subsidizing $20 million of the project’s cost. Old National Bank is providing financing up to $14 million according to the naming rights agreement signed by the Vanderburgh County Commissioners. This leaves roughly $37 Million that developer HCW of Branson, Missouri will have to come up with in a combination of cash and loans for the projects financing to be secured.


  1. Editor,

    1) Caption (SNEGALS) doesn’t match picture (SMEAGOLS); and

    2) If a positive IU Med. School announcement comes by January 31st, and the Hotel groudbreaking hasn’t happened, Council should punt on the Hotel; the City should pocket the $ 20 Million Hotel Incentive; and require ONB to proceed with naming rights to the Centre. All good (very good) at that point !

  2. I suggest that instead of breaking ground, the officials get together and throw pies heaven-ward, in honor of all of the Mayor’s “pie-in-the-sky” plans. If they throw the pies after dark, it could be billed as the “fly-by-night, pie-in-the-sky” celebration.

    Pardon my copy-and-paste of my original comment, but this is really how I see it.

    I wonder if Jones is the problem, or is there a skeleton in the HCW closet?? It might be “nothing” is wrong, but I’m putting my chips on “something” is wrong.

  3. Don’t be surprised when a crack in the ice
    Appears under your feet.
    You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
    with your fear flowing out behind you
    As you crawl on thin ice.

  4. At least they offered a couple of excuses, weather and the usual go-to ‘scheduling’, for us to pick from.

    ‘Weather and scheduling conflicts made the delay necessary, said Steve Schaefer, chief of staff to Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.’— CourierPress 1/7/14.

    I guess you pick the one you like best or disbelieve the least. Not sure. I am sure this was predictable. Time for HCW to put up.

    I believe the photo illustrating this article depicts a gaggle of Smeagols rather than a flock thereof. They leave no money on the table when they self aviate out of a town.

      • I think it has to do with the new fertilizer plant.
        Reason #3 for the delay, ‘Schaefer also said hotel developer HCW has discovered underground moorings that were not removed during demolition of the parking garage’.

        As the day grows longer so do the ‘reasons’ for the ceremony to be pushed back. Has anybody put up any money for the new hotel yet?

  5. A flock of Smeagols!! LMFAO!! Thank you editor!

    ♫ A beam of light comes shining down on you u oh
    shining down on you u oh ♪

    So which is it?

    A) Bob Jones can’t cough up $14M?
    B) ONB’s board won’t approve flushing $14M down a rat hole?
    C) HCW couldn’t pass muster?
    D) No bank would do a 100% LTV to HCW?
    E) The REIT funding failed miserably
    F) All of the above.

    • G: they wanted to escape the embarrassment of being unable to muster enough strength to actually break the frozen January soil in front of cameras.

      On second thought, this couldn’t be it. That would require too much foresight.

      • I’m sure the unions guys could pitch a tent and prepare some warmed up phony soil for them to throw around for their benfactor.

        They are just so eager to have this photo op.

        They should go back to the drawing board and do what you suggested. A smaller hotel largely privately financed with a $6-8M subsidy.

        Yes I know people need jobs. God only knows!
        Yes I know we have an empty lot next to a stadium and a convention center without an adjacent hotel.
        Yes I know it would be “nice” to get in the Southern rotation of companies/associations that rotate their conventions.

        But building a $40M hotel that will be worth $25M the day its finished, and a rapdily declinging value therafter, is NOT the answer.

  6. What I don’t understand is why Winnecke set a construction start date before HCW is required to have all their financing in place, which I believe is March 31.

  7. Breaking New Ground
    A Short Story

    By: Brad Linzy

    This wasn’t his fault. That’s all he kept saying to himself.

    It wasn’t his fault the two feet of snow came. It wasn’t his fault it took the road deptartment half an hour to send someone over to clear a spot for the media and all the hardhat-donning bigwigs. And it most definitely wasn’t his fault he was now trying to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on a frozen lot. This thing was scheduled weeks ago. How was he to know it was coming a blizzard? He didn’t watch the news anymore. All they ever did was make fun of him on the news. Of course the fun-making wasn’t overt, but in their own manner, the wolf pack of town journalists had begun to turn on him. They smelled blood.

    ‘Look at the Mayor, he’s goofed up again…look at the Mayor, he gave $200k in incentives to a company who builds perpetual motion machines and skipped town…look at the Mayor, his exercise video made him look like a doofus.’

    That wasn’t his fault either! His city had been named the ‘fattest city in the country’, a title he inherited from his predecessor. It wasn’t his responsibility to make all these lazy f—- exercise, yet there he was, pretending to give a s—, wearing tight pants that made his balls hurt and made him look like an aging Richard Simmons. He didn’t need this s— – dancing along to a “chicken fat” song with firefighters, policemen, local TV personalities, and 12-year-olds. The salary wasn’t even competitive with other cities of similar size, but in his heart of hearts, he knew he wasn’t really worth $90k anyway. $60k maybe, but not 90.

    The first spade blow tossed up a few tiny chunks of gravel and ice, but the only thing dug up were nervous laughs and more self-doubt. But in spite of his otherwise complete lack of vision and qualifications, he was a skilled public speaker. He had that going for him. That’s how he’d gotten elected after all…talking…albeit mostly out his ass.

    A quick quip later – something about this ground being no harder than his opposition on the city council – and everyone was laughing and willing to entertain another cringeworthy attempt. Again he drove the shovel into the compacted snow…and again…and again. Not a single photo-worthy chunk of black dirt.

    Another nervous smile and off with the coat. This was war.

    He thought back to his high school days and all those embarrassing photos – him in bow-ties, him in Future Leaders of America, him in student government, him on the debate team. They actually came close to winning State that year. But nobody cared, including him. None of that was really his own choice anyway. His dad made him run for Class President. His dad made him wear bow-ties to school. His dad wanted him to be a Senator, or maybe even President. But what had he become? A lousy, overpaid Mayor in the fattest city in the country.

    It had taken months to get to this stage in the project and he’d be damned if a little ice was going to ruin his first real moment of triumph since taking office. This convention hotel was going to be the thing he was remembered for.

    Sure, people did a lot of crying and moaning about the subsidies and the 20-year decline in the convention market and all that blather, but this town needed a convention hotel downtown, thats what the consultant he hired to tell him that had told him, and by god they were going to get one! And when they got one they would remember his name. It might say ‘Doubletree’ on the outside, but people would know this was his hotel.

    Both hands on the shovel now. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

    He raised the shovel blade the height of his yellow hard hat and with all the desperation he could muster, thrust it downward into the compacted frost.

    Pieces of earthen shrapnel went flying out in a v-shaped pattern before him. Errant shards of gravel, sand, bum’s needles, and god knows what else pelted the row of VIPs.

    A collective gasp went up. Then a series of screams…

    Back when he used to actually watch the local news, back when he was running his successful campaign, he remembered thinking how much he’d like to f— Sarah Conners, the hot Channel 7 anchor who always touched the arms of his well-tailored suits before and after interviews and who always looked into his eyes intently while he answered her questions about this boring policy or that senseless issue. He remembered how beautiful and blue-green her eyes looked, eyes like a Capricorn Sea. He remembered how sexy she looked in those turquoise dresses and heels. He imagined soaking with her in a hot tub at his new Doubletree. He imagined taking her to a business convention.

    But now Sarah Conners was crouching on the ground, her face buried in her hands, her beige leggings buried in off-white snow, muffled screaming. A piece of razor-thin glass was lodged in one of her beautiful Capricorn eyes, probably a chance remnant of the perfectly good hotel that used to stand on this very spot, whose demolition some attributed to bad planning, others attributed to political patronage and cronyism. But none of that was his fault, just as this was not his fault!

    As the snow beneath Miss Conners began to look like a cherry gas station snow cone, the Mayor stood stone-faced and slack-jawed. After a long pause in which he felt numb and cold as the solid earth, an ambulance carried away the wounded and probably scarred reporter. The remaining VIPs and media people turned to look at him. They expected him to pull this back from the brink with some quip and a smile. They expected him to put some kind of bookend on this disaster.

    He pursed his lips, removed his bow-tie, and removed his yellow hard hat.

    “I quit.”

    Driving home, listening to Pink Floyd on his stereo he thought, ‘maybe I’ll take up guitar instead,’ as Roger Waters sang:

    “If you should go skating
    On the thin ice of modern life
    Dragging behind you the silent reproach
    Of a million tear stained eyes
    Don’t be surprised, when a crack in the ice
    Appears under your feet
    You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
    With your fear flowing out behind you
    As you claw the thin ice”

    Note: Any similarity to actual persons living or dead is likely given its a big world with a lot of people in it.

    • Brad, well done, well done. I can’t stop reading this without laughing. Encore!

      Can’t let you out of here without asking you this- Who is Sarah Conners and is she really that hot? I don’t seem to remember her from channel 7.

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