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By Denise M. Summers
Southsider Voice editor
Storage Express has acquired the former Holiday Inn property at the corner of U.S. 31 and Thompson Road and is razing the building to make room for offices, restaurants and a self-storage facility.
Storage Express is owned by Southsider Jefferson Shreve, who started the company 25 years ago. Shreve serves on the Indianapolis City-County Council, where he represents the portion of Perry Township where the blighted property is located. He is working with Indy-based Sitehawk Realty to secure the restaurant deals.
Storage Express, which develops and manages 87 storage facilities throughout Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, purchased the nearly 9-acre site at a lender-ordered auction in October. The company worked feverishly on the environmental testing while securing the necessary permits before demolition could commence.
Opened in 1966 as a Holiday Inn, the hotel was later remodeled into Holidome. When it no longer met the branding standards of Holiday Inn, it became a Ramada Inn, and for a short time was a Cavalier Inn. The property fell into foreclosure in 2011 and has been vacant and deteriorating for several years. Shreve noted that the property had become not only an eyesore and a public safety menace but also an obstacle to economic revitalization at a very visible gateway to the Southside.
The Marion County Health department had ordered that it be boarded up two years ago. Two fires were set within the property by squatters last year. Others had broken in to collect scrap copper and anything else of value since the property fell into the hands of a bank in Texas. The once-upscale hotel shows no sign of its heyday, when its conference center was busy and the bar offered live entertainment on weekends. The water and fire damage and looting have left the building in disrepair.
Shreve’s company has contracted locally based Casey-Bertram Demolition to raze the building; work began last week and should be completed by March 1.
“The hotel was built with steel-reinforced concrete floors and walls,” Shreve said. “Though it’s in terrible shape – and leaks like a sieve – it is not going to be an easy or cheap demo job.” The concrete structure is going to be crushed on-site, and most of the by-products will be used to provide a base for the redevelopment and not wind up in a landfill. This is the most ecologically friendly way to bring a structure like this down, he noted.
“I’ve enjoyed some success with my business over the years. I’m in business to earn a profit. But the developments that are hands-down the most fun are those that take a blighted property like this and clear the way for economic renewal. We’re building a new facility on West Washington Street right now with what was the site of an even bigger eyesore for years ... the old Shrum’s Mobile Homes salvage business. Projects like these are a lot of work. But the reward matches the work, and I feel lucky to have an opportunity to tackle a project like this one in my own backyard.”