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Signia Hotel Rendering

Source: Ratio and Kite Realty Group Trust / Ratio and Kite Realty Group Trust

INDIANAPOLIS — City leaders in Indianapolis gave their final stamp of approval for the construction of a brand new hotel to be built on the south side of downtown.

The 800-room Signia Hotel, to be owned by the city, will be built on what is now Pan America Plaza and will cost roughly $510 million to build. Last month the city-county council approved a plan to take out bonds to the tune of $625 million to pay for the project.

Revenue generated from the hotel will then be used to pay the bonds back.

The final proposal to approve construction of the hotel passed on a partisan basis Monday night with all 19 Democrats voting in favor of it while all five Republicans voted against it. Independent councilor Ethan Evans joined Democrats in voting in favor of it.

“I understand the implications of not doing this project,” said Councilor Brian Mowery (R). “However, it’s the idea of the city owning a hotel and competing directly against the private sector that has me concerned.”

Mowery said that it “sounds a bit socialist” for the city to own the hotel.

Another main concern among Republicans has been what the impact of the project might be on taxpayers, should the city not be able to make repayments on the bonds taken out for the project.

Councilor Jared Evans addressed concerns in a heated delivery during final comments from councilors before taking a vote.

“It has been manipulated and said to (taxpayers) that taxpayers will be on the line for this project if the revenue doesn’t support it, that is a lie,” Evans said. “The bonds are being paid for with revenue from the hotel, not taxpayer dollars.”

Evans also says that the bonds are “non-recourse revenue bonds” which he said means that there is no recourse for the bondholders to make up the money.

Finally, before the vote Republican councilor Josh Bain asked if a feasibility study had been done on the project. The city’s comptroller, Sarah Reardon, answered the question by saying that there is a feasibility study, however, that study is being kept confidential.

Hogsett, in a statement issued after Monday night’s vote, said the approval will help protect and expand 83,000 hospitality jobs, and increase tourism business.