Indianapolis Awards $50M Midfield Hotel to Local Developer

While Mansur is poised to lock up the airport hotel deal, Airport Authority members actually preferred White Lodging's design proposal. The authority is negotiating to use that design.

Nationwide, airport hotels do well, according to data provided by Hendersonville, Tenn.-based Smith Travel Research. Nationally, they enjoy about a 71-percent occupancy rate_better than the overall occupancy rate of 65 percent.

Occupancy near Indianapolis' airport_an area that includes hotels in Speedway_was 57 percent in 2006, Smith Travel Research found. That compares with a 60-percent occupancy rate in the overall Indianapolis hotel market.

Even so, a 2004 report commissioned by the Airport Authority concluded that the market could support a meeting-focused hotel of at least 250 rooms. But offering more meeting space can cut into the bottom line, Hunden said.

A meeting-focused hotel for the Indianapolis airport might be a stretch, he said, because they're still rare in non-hub cities.

Even around busier airports like Chicago Midway, he said, hotels are mostly limited-service brands like Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn Express that offer only small, but well-booked, meeting rooms.

This isn't Mansur's first foray into hotel development. The company did a $ 40 million renovation and expansion of the 423-room Omni Severin Downtown Hotel in 1987, "back before anyone thought it was a good idea to have a hotel downtown," Cagann said.

The group also was involved in the early site work for the Conrad Indianapolis before selling its interest, and assembled the property now occupied by the Hampton Inn Downtown. *

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