To construct a $27 million Hyatt Hotel in downtown Bloomington. The developer of the plan, Indianapolis-based REI Real Estate Services, only asked the city council for permission to vacate an alley; otherwise, no public dollars are being offered as an incentive for this new development. A lot of teeth gnashing by council members occurred in approving the plan, but their concern was based on whether the new hotel operator would pay its employees a living wage, which is currently $11.66 an hour according to the Herald-Times. The answer they got was that no promises could be made.
The new 168-room, 7-story hotel will be built on property that is currently used for surface parking. The hotel will include its own two-level parking garage with 130 spaces. Earlier this year, Marriott announced plans to construct a $17 million SpringHill Suites hotel in downtown Bloomington. The two new hotels will add 300 hotel rooms--enough to close a gap in the number of hotel rooms a consultant for the city's convention center said needed to be filled to attract more groups to host meetings in the city.
If it's possible to undertake such sizable real estate projects in the downtown of our much smaller neighbor to the south without any public subsidies, this should be a matter of great importance to our city leaders in Indianapolis, who persistently tell us that no new development can occur in downtown Indianapolis unless taxpayers share in the cost of the development. I propose that Mayor Greg Ballard form a task force at once to visit the fair city of Bloomington on a fact-finding mission to discover how they managed to get private developers to make such large investments in these difficult times without asking for anything more than a borrowed alley. Perhaps the eggheads who write the local editorials in support of these public subsidies can tag along as well. We might just be able to find a way of paying for basic city services and even a little more mass transit without resorting to higher taxes.