Old Indy historic landmark begins new life

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An old downtown hotel that had hit hard times began a new life on Thursday.

For the past year, what was once the Canterbury Hotel has been nearly rebuilt inside and brought up to modern standards. It opens as the Le Meridien Indianapolis.

The 86-year-old landmark building had fallen on hard times, but with millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades, it’s back in business.

On Thursday morning, crews put the final touches on the building, located at 123 S. Illinois Street. Because it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, only cosmetic changes are allowed outside. But inside the Le Meridien Indianapolis, nearly everything is new.

“Really everything a guest sees and touches. You know they went through and completely stripped it to the studs in the guest rooms,” says General Manager Nick Clark.

There are 100 rooms now. Each decorated to reflect the Circle City. All of the rooms have king beds, so if you reserve a double, you get two kings. There are also 10 suites. Each has a sitting room and a large bathroom with a television in the mirror.

“Everything here from paint, air conditioning units, plumbing, electrical – about $130,000 per guest room,” he says.

But the guest rooms are only one part of the strategy to make the LeMeridien Indianapolis stand out in a city with a growing number of hotel rooms. The other is the first floor restaurant called Spoke and Steele.

“This is not a hotel restaurant in any sense of the word. You know, we built a 160-seat restaurant for the community,” says Clark.

With price points between $9 and $33, the hotel wants its eatery to become a gathering place for everyone, whether they are staying in the hotel or not. And ironically, while they call Thursday”s start a “soft opening,” the staff will be put to the test almost immediately.

“You know, I’ve opened several hotels and this is the first time I’ve opened one to a sold out weekend. And not just any sold out weekend, I mean Big 10 is a phenomenal event,” says Clark.

That’s the Big 10 Championship football game Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium. For Thursday’s opening, 40 rooms are booked. Room rates run from about $130 to about $350, depending on the size of the room, the day of the week and whether there is a big event in town.

Le Meridien is the upscale brand of the Starwood Group, which includes the Sheraton and Westin. 98 new jobs were added with the opening of the hotel.

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