Amid a global pandemic and recession that has ravaged the tourism and hospitality industries, a boutique hotel opens in a new downtown neighborhood touted as the rebirth of an iconic Indianapolis structure.
The 139-room Bottleworks Hotel is slated to open on December 15th. It is located on the top two floors of the administration building of the historic former Coca-Cola bottling plant in the 800 block of Mass Ave.
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The hotel was among the first to open in the $ 300 million Mixed Use Bottleworks District. The project is a mixture of historical architecture and modern amenities and combines a vibrant nightlife with interesting culinary experiences. Wisconsin-based Geronimo Hospitality Group hopes the hotel will attract modern travelers – people on short business trips or couples looking to stay.
The hotel has a restaurant and lounge, room service, valet parking, a fitness center, meeting rooms, and an outdoor urban courtyard with seating. During use, the inner courtyard can have a mobile bar, lighting or soft music.
“Travel changes,” said general manager Amy Isbell-Williams. “I think – especially given the climate that’s happening in our world right now – when people want to get out and spend their money and stay in a hotel or something, I think they are looking for an experience.”
COVID-19 is affecting the hotel market
The novel coronavirus pandemic has put a heavy burden on the hotel market in the city center, as the business disruptions of the pandemic led to a wave of cancellations of congresses, postponed sports and entertainment events and depressive cultural tourism.
Tennessee-based STR, a global hospitality benchmarking firm, said occupancy in the Indianapolis central business district fell from about 71% in February to nearly 28% in March month-on-month due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Hotels like the JW Marriott, the Alexander, the Conrad and the Marriott Indianapolis have their employees on leave. Even with the economy reopening, the hotel industry has been slow to recover.
The preliminary occupancy rate for the month of November up to the 28th day was around 25% – a decrease of around 63 percentage points compared to the previous year, according to STR.
Isbell-Williams said she viewed the opening as an opportunity during a pandemic.
“I think because people are paying more attention to how they spend their time outside of the home they will find this a real treat,” she said, noting the restaurants, hospitality and social experiences the Bottleworks District could offer .
A new hub for the city center
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Mass Ave and Chatham Arch districts, the developers have announced that the Bottleworks District will act as a hub for culinary, art and entertainment as well as a reinterpretation of an inner city structure.
The 12 hectare district will be built vertically on the site of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant, which was built in 1931 and founded by the Yuncker family. In its prime, the facility produced and distributed at least two million bottles a week, Isbell-Williams said.
Wisconsin-based Hendricks Commercial Properties was selected to redevelop the former facility in 2016 and took ownership of the property the following year to use the site as the Bottleworks District.
The Geronimo Hospitality Group, also from Wisconsin, will own and operate the hotel. According to Isbell-Williams, the developers went to great lengths to preserve and restore details and elements of the historic bottling plant.
“Your design buildouts are pretty complicated – they’re kind of pushed into this historic place,” she said. “Obviously it took a bit of time to get these exactly right. That’s why we’re not opening all of them together.”
The hotel’s lobby was once referred to as the tasting room, and hundreds of tiles that could not be recovered were recreated by a local ceramicist, Isbell-Williams said. Notable features of the hotel include the handrails of the rotunda woven staircase, reminiscent of old soda fountains. Plaster ceilings are designed to look like fizzy drinks.
A touch of Art Deco architecture will extend to the guest rooms, but not in a fancy way, she added.
The starting price for the classic king room is USD 249 per night and the priest suite is USD 699 per night. The hotel will also include multiple tenants such as Blue Collar Coffee Co., retailer Good Neighbor, and The W Nail Bar.
The cocktail bar Sundry & Vice will occupy the lobby lounge, while the Asian restaurant concept Modita is located on the first floor.
The Food Hall will open in January
In addition to the hotel, Geronimo will also open and operate The Garage, a 38,000-square-foot food hall slated to open on January 5th.
The community market will feature a mix of more than 20 food and beverage tenants and specialty retailers against a backdrop of 1930s Art Deco terracotta facades, industrial architecture, and large roll-up doors.
Selected restaurant vendors serve whiskey, ice cream, seafood and lobster rolls, hamburgers, classic cocktails, special drinks, lattes, wood-fire pizzas as well as Asian fusion and cuisine with Pakistani-Indian and Brazilian influences.
Retail vendors include Pumpkinfish, a gift shop; Square Cat Vinyl, a record store; Becker Supply Co., an outdoor clothing store; and Brick & Mortar Barber Shop.
The Bottleworks District will be built in phases. The first phase includes The Garage, The Hotel, Living Room Theaters and Pins Mechanical.
Indianapolis-based venture capital firm High Alpha has moved into new offices in the district.
Living Room Theaters, an eight-screen cinema showing local and internationally recognized films, is due to open this month along with other branches in the district. Pins Mechanical, an entertainment venue that includes duckpin bowling and more, opens next year.
The second phase of the district comprises 60 apartments and is expected to open in the second half of 2022.
Contact IndyStar reporter Alexandria Burris at [email protected] or call 317-617-2690. Follow her on Twitter: @allyburris.