The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

March 12, 2013

Editorial: Savvy developer could welcome hotel guests

The Garden Inn is being sold through a bankruptcy auction.

Owned by the M3 Hotels corporation, based in Tennessee, the 156-room inn at 5920 Scatterfield Road was recently shuttered after months of little activity.

A former Holiday Inn built in 1966, the building seemed to lose its prominence over the years and was supplanted by a Holiday Inn Express down the road. M3 bought the site for $2.9 million in 2005 and never brought it back to significant status. Hotel income dropped in two years from $729,654 in 2010 to $478,564 in 2012. In October, the corporation filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Indianapolis. The filing lists assets of $1,275,000 for the property and $84,000 in personal property with $3.8 million in liabilities.

Though it’s not always indicative of trouble to come, there’s also a question about commitment from investors who don’t live in a particular area. The partners behind M3 live in Tampa, Fla., Schaumburg, Ill., and Manchester, Tenn. (home of the corporation).

So far, this latest chapter in the building’s existence has been an unfitting chapter for a hotel with an interesting saga — one that bankruptcy papers alone won’t tell the next buyer.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the Holiday Inn sat at the main gateway from Interstate 69 to Anderson. It was a healthy sign for the local economy when its parking lot was full of cars — and it always was packed during the month of May as visitors came to the Indianapolis 500.

When it was later remodeled into a Holidome, the hotel showed it could keep up with trends. From all appearances, it was Madison County’s unofficial convention center.

But as more hotels cropped up closer to Indianapolis and the big race became accessible via TV coverage, the Holiday Inn would cater to those just passing through for a night. It lost its identifying status.

And across Scatterfield to the west, the former Ramada Inn has closed.

The north side of this gateway is beginning to look empty. That look goes against the efforts to attract people to new businesses and to Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. Visitors are still being drawn to Anderson but they are greeted by empty buildings that are falling apart.

Residents shouldn’t expect the city to restore these privately-owned structures. But the city’s economic development group, local chamber and convention bureau should contact the new buyer and emphasize the significance of the entryway.

This community can’t stress enough to future owners the importance this location should have. With the correct business savvy, the hotel at 5920 Scatterfield Road can again be a welcoming site that invites visitors to stay awhile in Anderson.

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