Corrections and Explanations: In a previous version of this article, Leo and James Yuncker’s last name was misspelled.
Brothers Leo and James Yuncker hadn’t imagined an ordinary industrial office building when they built the Coca-Cola bottling plant along Massachusetts Avenue in the early 20th century.
They hired a local architecture firm to decorate the factory in the Art Deco style that was popular at the time. A “tasting room” with large glass windows showed the filling conveyor belt for passers-by.
Now, almost a century later, the legendary bottling plant begins its final chapter on Tuesday as the Bottleworks Hotel. The Geromino Hospitality Group, which captured historical elements of the building in a massive renovation, offered media tours on Monday.
The hotel right in the heart of the city center pays homage to its beginnings as a Coca-Cola bottling plant.
The guests check in in the lobby, which stands on the original terrazzo tiles in the former tasting room. You will look out of large glass windows – the same ones that showed the plant’s machines.
The room doors are bright and in Coca-Cola red.
Exposed white brick walls remind visitors of the building’s past industrial life.
However, success is not a guarantee. It is a difficult time to open or even operate a hotel – the occupancy of the hotels in the statistical metropolitan region has fallen by 23.7% since the beginning of the year, according to monthly data from the hospitality benchmarking company STR.
Nevertheless, General Manager Amy Isbell-Williams relies on visitors even in the middle of a difficult year.
“There’s a lot going on at Staycation right now,” she said. “And those who are out and about are really looking for something to experience.”
If checking into the historically preserved lobby isn’t enough, climbing the spiral staircase to the back may be enough. From the 1930s onwards, visitors checked into the Yunckers secretary, who was standing under an ornate ceiling with decorative circles – an allusion to the effervescence of Coca-Cola.
The hotel is just one amenity of the $ 300 million mixed-use Bottleworks District, which opens a 38,000-square-foot grocery store called The Garage on Jan. 5.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant founded by the Yuncker family developed into the largest bottling plant in the world with 260 employees and produced over 2 million bottles of soda per week.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman bought the Coca-Cola franchise in 1964, moved the bottling operations to the speedway, and used the building to store his classic car collection.
The Indianapolis Public Schools bought the building four years later and used it as a central kitchen, bus service center, and woodworking studio.
Hendricks Commercial Properties took ownership to begin work on the Bottleworks District in 2017.
Hotel rooms cost between $ 249 and $ 699 per night.
The five most expensive so-called priest suites have a white tub on a white marble floor, rooms that Isbell-Williams calls “rough diamonds”.
Other rooms have breathed new life into former administrative offices, in which the bed is in the middle of the room with a view of the historically preserved windows.
Geromino Hospitality Group, which owns and operates the hotel and The Garage, tried to keep the building’s historic features wherever possible. A local ceramic artist replaced over 200 tiles and replicated the originals – including those with fading colors stained from smoking that were common indoors at the time.
In the middle of the meeting rooms on the second floor is the mysterious “laboratory” which once housed huge trash cans – probably filled with a formula, as Isbell-Williams notes – and metal chutes in which bottle caps were dropped into the basement.
“We will only use this room as a pre-function room,” she said. “Put your coffee stations out there when you have the events in the other meeting rooms – maybe a cocktail hour.”
The 139-room hotel is only opening its second floor this week, while the rooms on the third floor are still being completed. Hotel tenants include Sundry & Vice, a Cincinnati cocktail lounge, and Blue Collar Coffee.
The Bottleworks District will also feature Living Room Theaters, an eight-screen theater showing local films, and the Pins Mechanical bowling alley – both of which will open later this winter.
The second phase of the district, which includes 60 residential units, will open in 2022.
Contact IndyStar reporter Amelia Pak-Harvey at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AmeliaPakHarvey.