As a ribbon-cutting for the new Home2 Suites by Hilton on Monday showed off a new extended-stay hotel on the city’s east side, community leaders also looked north toward adjacent empty acreage as the possible site of a new casino.

“I’d like it to go right out there,” said Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson about the proposed casino that could be put before Vigo County voters in a ballot referendum as soon as this fall.

Gibson, a Terre Haute developer and partner in casino venture Spectacle Entertainment, acknowledged the spot he pointed to is his ideal planned location, as it’s in the midst of commercial development along the U.S.40/Indiana 46 corridor adjacent to Interstate 70.

Spectacle Entertainment has said it expects to compete for a Vigo County license should voters give the green light. The Indiana Gaming Commission will decide which potential operator submits the most attractive proposal.

The eastside location will attract traffic from Indianapolis and central Indiana, Gibson said, adding to the traffic already coming from Illinois.

“A casino in this area as we picture it, we think, will provide four to five hundred jobs to the community, which will be fantastic for this area, so we are very hopeful,” Gibson said while standing in the lobby of the new Home2 Suites by Hilton.

Mayor Duke Bennett said more development on the city’s east side is expected.

“This is our growing area out here on the east side, and it’s just great to see another addition,” Bennett said prior to the ribbon-cutting by hotel general manager Kali Bentley. “We just appreciate the investment by those in the community that made this possible.”

“We are thrilled to bring this fresh, new lodging option to Terre Haute for both business and leisure travelers,” Bentley said of the hotel featuring 91 suites and a range of value, tech-focused and eco-conscious amenities.

“Our new hotel offers spacious suites and value-added amenities that allow our guests to cater to their unique needs,” Bentley said.

Bentley and hotel sales director Jenna Hastings accepted a membership plaque from Terre Haute Area Chamber of Commerce president David Haynes, who also alluded to the possible casino location.

“Rumor has it that more and more people are going to be coming to Terre Haute over the next few years, and we’re glad they’re going to have a place to stay,” Haynes said.

Other development in the area is also possible, Gibson said.

“We’re always thinking ahead. I believe there will be more hotels out here,” he said. “The area is growing fast, and I believe the population will continue to move this way. We’re excited for the opportunities.”

A new casino, now a possibility after Gov. Eric Holcomb last week signed a sweeping Indiana gaming bill that includes the potential for a Terre Haute license. Such a casino would require Vigo County voter approval, either in this November’s election or in the May 2020 primary.

Gibson said he hopes for a November vote. Although this fall would normally bring only municipal elections, a referendum question can be added to extend the ballot countywide.

“The community and the Chamber and a lot of people are putting their heads together trying to figure out when that will take place,” Gibson said of the referendum. “I think there’s a good chance it will be this fall, which is when I think it should be, if for no other reason than it gets us in ahead of another legislative session.

“It’s no secret that there were some communities unhappy with our bill, and who knows what may happen,” he continued. “There could be changes made if we haven’t made any moves, so I think its important for the community to move ahead as quickly as possible.”

As for the new hotel, Hastings gave tours of the suites which feature king or queen beds with an additional pullout sleeper sofa, a kitchenette and dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator and a “working wall” that can host business travelers.

The hotel is targeted for extended stay travelers, such as business professionals, but also accommodates travelers attending local events such as sports tournaments or conventions.

More information about the hotel and reservations are available online at www.Home2suites.com.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With close to 29 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.