Hotels, conference center to Bolster Hancock County Tourism
16 Jan 2024
Events, banquets, corporate outings and more will soon be held at the proposed Hancock Conference Center in Hancock Gateway Park. The project, unique to Hancock County, will consist of a 26,000-square-foot conference center and a 184-bed dual-brand Hilton product.
The plans represent the continued upscale vision and development of Hancock Gateway Park, a multi-use community led by Hancock Health across over 200 acres near I-70’s interchange with Mt. Comfort Road. It is anticipated with the development of the conference center growth will occur sooner than planned, with other projects such as restaurants and retail services soon becoming a reality.
Indianapolis-based Sun Development & Management will construct and operate the dual-brand hotel which will comprise of a Home2 Suites and Hilton Garden Inn by Hilton. The site is located west of the Gateway Hancock Health clinic and north of Randall Residence (aging-in-place campus) in Hancock Gateway Park. Projected to cost $32 million, the facility will enable Hancock County to host events from in and around the state. Able to accommodate simultaneous events and single events seating more than 600 people, Hancock Conference Center will be the first of its kind in Hancock County. The hotel will operate with a full kitchen, full service restaurant, bar, multiple outdoor patio areas with fire pits and eloquent lobby areas, while also including standard amenities such as an indoor pool, fitness center and business center.
Rob Matt, Senior Vice President, Hancock Health, said that a dual-brand hotel and conference center has the potential to draw tens of thousands of people to Hancock County annually. Businesses are going to notice that and want to set up shop nearby, particularly restaurants of a higher caliber and retailers. The project will likely draw different residential developers to the area as well.
“It’s going to put a brand on Hancock County,” Matt said. “It’s going to be a destination for things.”
The approval process is underway among Hancock County officials for a modified 10-year tax abatement that will gradually phase in real property taxes on the development. Also underway is the approval process for a $4 million economic development bond to help pay for the conference center. The bonds will be payable by the innkeeper tax generated by the project--an arrangement the Hancock County Tourism Commission supports.
Harold Gibson, Director of Property Development for Hancock Health, noted the plans meet Hancock Health’s high-quality vision for Hancock Gateway Park. He also appreciates Hancock County leaders’ support for the project.
“We just don’t take deals that aren’t going to be a good deal for everybody,” Gibson said. “It has to work for us, but it also has to work for the county, because we’re in this together.”
Sun Development has also committed to building another hotel just to the north in Hancock Gateway Park, the details of which will be determined at a later date. The firm has developed hotels throughout Indiana and the United States and currently owns and operates the Embassy Suites Hotel/Conference Centers in Plainfield and Hamilton Town Center. It and its chairman and CEO, Bharat Patel, have been awarded multiple accolades in the hotel industry, including 2008 Embassy Suites Developer of the Year, 2010 Hilton Developer of the Year, and the 2019 Hilton Development Lifetime Achievement Award.