Kokomo leaders announced Tuesday a Hilton Garden Inn, conference center and auto museum are coming to downtown.
The lot is on the corner of Main and Superior Streets, the former site of the city’s transit center.
The conference center will be able to accommodate up to 560 people. The second story of the conference center will hold offices for the convention and visitors staff.
Mayor Greg Goodnight says funding for the $26 million center will come from four sources.
“The biggest chunk is going to come from private investment,” Goodnight says. “But because it’s a conference center that will in title be owned by the city, the visitor’s bureau, the county government and city government are all participating.”
Goodnight says the money won’t come from taxes; the project will be funded instead from cash reserves and bonds.
Goodnight says the convention and visitors board have saved about $1.5 million from the county’s 5 percent innkeeper’s tax to put towards the project.
Kokomo leaders did try to increase the tax to 8 percent the last two years, but the proposal didn’t make it through the Indiana General Assembly. Goodnight says that extra funding isn’t necessary.
The city is partnering with Dora Hotel Company to develop and manage the conference center. Dora Hotel President Tim Dora says they’re hoping to offer a variety of options for visitors.
“Maybe an extended stay hotel and then a hotel where the average stay is 1.2 nights,” Dora says. “So we can get a wide spectrum of visitors that stay downtown.”
A bridge will connect the conference center to a six-story hotel. The hotel will have underground parking, a restaurant, indoor pool and bar.
There are plans to eventually build an auto museum in the basement.
Dora says they hope to break ground on the project by early next year.