The Evansville City Council has unanimously approved a financing package for a downtown convention hotel. The city will cover $20 million of the more than $70 million project. Our partners at Eyewitness News in Evansville report ground could be broken on the project in January. The vote on the project was delayed a week after many council members expressed concerns about the initial financing package.

The development will include a 253-room hotel, a nearly 80 unit apartment tower and a parking garage.

The current deal calls for nearly $40 million from Missouri-based developer HCW and $11.5 million from a group of private investors.

That includes Evansville-based Old National Bancorp (NYSE: ONB)

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke has called the project vital to the future economic development of the city.

Sources: Eyewitness News WEHT/WTVW, Inside INdiana Business

October 2, 2013

News Release

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – At a special meeting held on Monday, September 30, the Evansville City Council unanimously approved a motion to finance a new convention hotel in downtown Evansville. The hotel, as proposed by developer HCW from Branson, MO., will include a 253-room full-service Hilton Double Tree with a 78-unit apartment complex, parking garage, sky bridges connecting to both The Centre convention center and the Ford Center, and other upgrades to be announced later. Private sector financing along with city and county funds and a $39.8 million commitment by HCW will pay for the $71.3 million investment.

Debate over the original proposal for funding the hotel caused the majority of city council members to oppose the city's obligation of $38.5 million towards the $71.3 million project. They expressed a concern that this was too costly for the city to incur and encouraged Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and the developer to review the proposal. Subsequent to hearing their concerns and their decision to table the vote, the Mayor spearheaded the effort to eliminate $5 million for retail space, convince HCW to increase their contribution by an additional $1 million for a total of $39.8 million, and encourage private sector funding to commit to contributing $11.5 million to the funding package. This new proposal reduced the city and county's obligation to a total of $20 million. It was presented to the Finance Committee meeting of the City Council on Monday, September 23 where members voted to table the vote for a week in order to give it adequate review. After their review, all members agreed at a special meeting on Monday, September 30 that this was a true public/private sector collaboration that now serves the public’s investment. The revised cost to the taxpayer and the opportunity it offers the city for the future of the convention industry and downtown economic development makes this a “win/win” project that everyone can support, as was voiced by several council members.

Mayor Winnecke said, “Clearly the downtown convention hotel is a critical investment in the economic future of our city. Not only will the project create hundreds of new jobs and spur additional development, it symbolizes the rolling out of the welcome mat for convention business in Evansville.”

Executive Director of the Evansville CVB Bob Warren said, “The Board of Commissioners and staff of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau are delighted at the positive outcome of this effort. Evansville has a 280,000 sq. ft. convention center, a multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility and, now, a downtown convention hotel that completes what is required for the two facilities to succeed. We are eager to begin our sales and marketing efforts to announce to meeting planners and state and national organizations that Evansville is back in the convention business and eager to assist and welcome them to our great city. We are ready to hit the ground running.”

At the present time, Old National Bank is the only named business in the private investment package but others will be revealed as details of the project are finalized. It is hoped that the groundbreaking for the hotel will take place by January of 2014 and completed within 18 months.

Source: Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau

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