News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 11, 2013

Holiday Inn redux: Approved replatting first step in hotel area’s rebuilding

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Area Plan Commission approved a replatting of property Wednesday that will pave the way for redevelopment of the Terre Haute Holiday Inn and surrounding property.

Those plans include renovation of the existing Holiday Inn five-story structure; demolition of its two-story structures; addition of two new restaurants and potential future construction of a third hotel on the site.

One definite is a Panda Garden Express that will be located on property south of the current hotel.

The Area Plan Commission approved a request by General Hotels Corp. (GHC) to plat nine parcels of land into five buildable lots to better meet existing and future needs. The 11-acre site is located at U.S. 41 and I-70.

“Everyone has eaten there, or our relatives from out of town probably stayed there,” said attorney Rick Shagley, representing GHC. “With changing times and changing demands of the marketplace, we are replatting this property to redevelop it.”

 The Holiday Inn opened in1962, said Jim Dora Jr., president and chief executive officer of GHC. “A hotel at 50 years old is no longer competitive to what the current market is,” Dora said in an interview with reporters.

The redevelopment of the area began with construction of Springhill Suites east of the Holiday Inn several years ago, he said.

The replatting creates a lot for a future and third hotel, which potentially would be located between the existing Holiday Inn site and the nearby Springhill Suites. “If the Terre Haute hotel market demands additional rooms, I have a spot for it,” he said.

But right now, his focus is on the Holiday Inn and restaurants.

Over the next two years, proposed plans call for the Holiday Inn’s two-story structures to be demolished, while the five-story structure would be gutted and renovated to make it more modern. The renovated hotel “will stay in the Holiday Inn family,” he said.

The second restaurant could be a steak house, he said, but it would be a separate building and not located within the hotel. “People don’t want to go to a hotel restaurant to have dinner,” Dora said.

Asked the name of the restaurant, he said, “We’re looking at what our options could be for that.”

His goal is to start work on the overall project as soon as possible, although he is still working on final plans and financing. “It behooves me to move forward on the project as quickly as possible,” Dora said.

In 2015, the franchise agreement is up on the Holiday Inn, and major changes are needed to refranchise.

“Terre Haute has been very good to my family. It’s a great corner location. It’s very difficult to find this much contiguous land right next to the highway,” Dora said. “It makes sense for me to look at it for investment.”

The project also benefits the community, he said. The hotel operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, employing three shifts of workers. It pays property taxes and buys local services.

“We hope everybody thinks we’re a good neighbor. We work to be,” Dora said.

If the future market doesn’t lend itself to a third hotel on the site, he said another restaurant could potentially go there.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or