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Financing closes for downtown Evansville convention hotel project long sought by boosters

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EVANSVILLE, Indiana — Evansville tourism officials are celebrating now that financing is in place for a $60 million downtown convention hotel eight months after the latest in a series of failed plans for the long-sought hotel collapsed.

Financing closed on Friday for the project, which will include a 240-room, five-story Hilton DoubleTree and a parking garage that will be shared with the new Indiana University School of Medicine-Evansville campus.

Groundbreaking for the medical school in Indiana's third-largest city will take place in October, but road closures signaling the start of construction on the hotel and parking garage could occur within days.

Construction is expected to take about 18 months on the hotel project, which supporters say is needed to boost Evansville's convention business. That business has fallen since the former Executive Inn shut down six years ago and was later razed.

"This is what we've been waiting for," Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Laura Libs told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/1LJhHxK ).

Libs said the group never stopped marketing the southwestern Indiana city to meeting and convention planners but now "we'll get a lot more aggressive."

Several prior attempts to build a new convention hotel had failed, most recently in December when plans collapsed for a 10-story hotel combined with an apartment complex.

Pedestrian bridges will link the new hotel with the 11,000-seat Ford Center arena and Old National Events Plaza.

The hotel and its related projects have a $20 million city subsidy, plus $3.6 million from Vanderburgh County and the Convention & Visitors Bureau. The project's developer is HCW and it will be built by Hunt Construction.

The hotel will boast a ground-floor restaurant and bar, conference space and an outdoor swimming pool.


Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

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