White Lodging changes mind again on saving Star Plaza

Contributed By:The 411 News

Demolition for theatre and Twin Towers -- new development coming

White Lodging announced that redevelopment plans for the Star Plaza property, at the corner of I-65 and U.S. 30, have expanded beyond the Radisson hotel to include all 30 acres, ultimately requiring closure and demolition of the Star Plaza Theatre and Twin Towers office complex.

It was less than a year ago, in August 2016, the hotel development company said it would close and demolish the plaza’s hotel and theatre. But in November 2016, White Lodging announced a change of mind, saying the theatre would stay and only the hotel would be razed.

“As we think about the end goal of creating a development with a unique sense of place that will enhance the local community for decades to come, it became clear through a collaborative effort with our development and land planning team that leaving the theatre and office complex would have, in many ways, limited the full potential of the re-development,” said Deno Yiankes, president and CEO, investments and development at White Lodging. “While it will require some patience, we have no doubt this ‘clean slate’ approach will allow us to create a destination that will have an everlasting positive impact on Northwest Indiana as Dean White’s original development provided for nearly 50 years.”

Yiankes, who started his career working in the kitchen at the Holiday Inn at Star Plaza in the 1980’s, said, “Our priority remains initiating the redevelopment with a modern first-class hotel and overall phased development that honors Mr. White’s legacy and serves and benefits the community for decades to come.”

“With this more comprehensive approach to the redevelopment, construction of the first phase including necessary infrastructure, will now likely commence sometime in the summer of 2018,” Yiankes said. Originally known as the “Holiday Star Plaza,” the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza was the brainchild of Dean White, the father of White Lodging’s founder Bruce White. The hotel and its restaurants, as well as the adjacent theatre, turned the I-65 and US 30 quadrant in Merrillville into a retail and hospitality mecca that provided the spark for decades long expansion of further retail, restaurants and hotels that ultimately have cemented the interchange as the commercial anchor of Northwest Indiana.

The intimate 3,400 seat theatre was opened in 1979 and proved to be a key stop for hundreds of A-list performers and shows who entertained hundreds of thousands of northwest Indiana and greater Chicagoland residents. Shows will continue at the theatre through December 2017 with a grand finale event with the only act to play Star Plaza Theatre every year since it opened, The Oak Ridge Boys. Tenants of the office tower will finish their remaining leases with the building anticipated to be vacated by summer of 2018.

Story Posted:06/19/2017

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