Illinois Building may get new life — possibly as hotel

By Diana Penner, [email protected]

After more than a decade of standing boarded up and languishing, the historic Illinois Building a block west of Monument Circle is about to be resurrected.

A new life for the 1926 building at Illinois and Market streets should take clearer shape in six weeks or so, said Ersal Ozdemir, president of purchaser Keystone Realty Group. The building likely will include mixed use — residential, retail, office and possibly a high-end hotel — and definitely will retain as much of its historic charm as possible, he said Monday.

The sale was final earlier this month, and because of a complicated ownership configuration involving the ground the building sits on and the 10-story structure itself, the purchase had to be completed quickly, Ozdemir said.

As a result, Ozdemir said, he and his associates didn’t have time for many studies or analyses.

“We really have not done the due diligence yet,” he said. But Ozdemir, who with Keystone has experience with restoration and reuse of other historic buildings, still concluded that the Illinois Building is worth it.

“It needs to be put back into its glory days,” he said.

Ozdemir declined to disclose the purchase price but said a figure published elsewhere is incorrect. He has heard from a few hotel developers and is looking hard at that option, but the decision has not been made. Nor, he said, is it guaranteed to be a “five-star” or “five-diamond” hotel.

For one thing, those designations are awarded after a hotel is in operation and passes muster with the organizations and associations that grant the escalating quality denotations.

However, Ozdemir said he is exploring the “boutique hotel” concept — hotels that offer fewer meeting rooms but more amenities.

That’s the kind of hotel diversification that Downtown Indianapolis needs, said Chris Gahl, vice president of marketing and communication with Visit Indy.


Call Star reporter Diana Penner at (317) 444-6249. Follow her on Twitter: @dianapenner.