Northwest RDA Wants Convention Center Study

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The chief executive officer of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority is calling for a feasibility study for possible additional conference and entertainment space in the region. Bill Hanna says the research into a new convention center would "honestly ask the question" of whether the market will need to fill the void that will be left after The Star Plaza Theatre and the Radisson at Star Plaza come down in Merrillville next year. He tells Inside INdiana Business he'd like planning for a study to begin before the end of the year.

Hanna says the work would help address several big questions. Potential finances, location and scope are all considerations. "Anytime you do a study like this," Hanna said, "you have to be very aware of what's going on already in the private market, too." He says the goal is not to displace other players in the market, so the study will take a look at what's currently available. Hanna says any number of financing options could eventually be considered, including the public-private partnership route and using tax money such as a Lake County food and beverage tax, which has been discussed for years. He says the RDA would go along with whatever the county council's wishes would be if a new tax would be approved.

The Star Plaza Theatre and the Radisson at Star Plaza have a presence that dates back to the 1960s in the region. Plans call for a luxury high-rise hotel from White Lodging Services Inc. to replace the attraction located off of U.S. 30 and Interstate 65.

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