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WHITE TOWNSHIP: Planners review IUP hotel proposal

by on May 14, 2014 10:55 AM

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s long-delayed Wayne Avenue hotel project may perhaps be moving ahead.

The builder has submitted site plans, and considering the months that have passed without any public activity on the project, the action suggests the developer is preparing to advance the project.

But neither IUP President Michael Driscoll nor the developer immediately responded to an email seeking comment.

Nevertheless, the site plans are now before the White Township planning commission, which reviewed them during a meeting Tuesday.

And the outcome?

They kicked the plans back to the builder. The plans have one side of the hotel over a setback line by 8 feet, and the township commissioners agreed that is 8 feet too much.

The officials said they were less inclined to grant a variance for the encroachment as they already had decided to forgo challenging the building’s height. At five stories, the building exceeds the township’s 35-foot height limit. Commissioner George Lenz added Tuesday night that the commission would like that limit to be even lower.

Although the hotel project has been on the books in one form or another since at least 2008, this latest version dates to November 2012. That’s when IUP officials announced they had selected custom home builders Daniel and Hany Bandar, and partner David Wilson, who formerly developed ITT Sheraton hotels, to build the hotel.

At the time, IUP officials said construction could begin in the spring with the opening scheduled for this August. But the start of construction never came to pass as the developer encountered difficulty in obtaining financing.

University officials have said the hotel is a necessary complement to the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, one that will boost the complex’s conference center bookings. Officials have said the conference center has been locked out of bidding on some meetings and events because it lacks an on-site hotel.

IUP isn’t taking an ownership stake in the hotel; it’s simply leasing the 3.3 acres of land the hotel will sit on to the developer, which will own and operate it.

However, the developer would work cooperatively with the Kovalchick Complex staff on booking events and hosting them.

Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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