A landmark entertainment venue and hotel in northwest Indiana will be replaced by a luxury high-rise hotel. White Lodging Services Inc. says The Star Plaza Theatre and the Radisson at Star Plaza, which have roots in Merrillville that date back to the late-1960s, are set to close next year. Construction on a new, nationally-branded hotel and adjoining meeting and training facilities could open in the summer of 2018.
The property has been managed by White Lodging since 1985. The hotel, first opened in 1969 as the "Holiday Star," is scheduled to close in January, while the 3,400-seat theater, opened in 1979, will finish out its current commitments and shut down at the end of April.
Chief Executive Officer Bruce White says the decision was "carefully analyzed and not taken lightly." In a statement, he continued "as part of this community – and even more as a part of the White family – I know what the property has meant to all of us. However, when we looked at the enormously positive impact the new facility can have on the area, we realized this would be the logical, next chapter of my father’s dream. And, this new chapter and fresh look will help put Northwest Indiana on the right track to attract new visitors and groups as well as new jobs and opportunities for the community."
The company says structural "challenges" and space constraints led to the need to demolish and rebuild instead of renovating. It calls the plans "the beginning of a new chapter in hospitality for the Northwest Indiana region." Indeed, the property has been a landmark for travelers to the Region and Chicagoland, prominently located off the U.S. 30 exit of I-65.
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