Full-Steam Ahead

Despite funding delays, Ben Hur project on track

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Construction on The Ben Hur is on track to begin by the end of this year or early 2021, the developer said in a project update.

The five-story downtown landmark will be transformed into a boutique hotel and apartments with a restaurant on the first floor. Construction is expected to last 14 to 15 months.

“I know [the] hospitality [industry] was really hit hard by coronavirus,” Jon Anderson, president of AP Development, told the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners earlier this week.

“We’ll be open in two years or a little over and by that time there will be recovery, and because we’re a local boutique hotel and not by an interstate, I think we’ll be OK.”

COVID-19 isn’t expected to hurt demand for the concierge apartments, which will offer up to 1,000-square-feet of space. The company’s newly opened lofts in a renovated Huntington fraternal lodge are more than 60% full.

“We’re also pretty bullish on the apartments when we get this thing open,” Anderson said.

The project received $2 million in state tax credits and the company has received a local bank’s letter of intent for a construction loan, he added. The company also received financial incentives from the City of Crawfordsville.

Developers are working to secure about $2.5 million in federal tax credits for the rest of the funding.

Commissioners handed control of the long-vacant building to Anderson in August 2018, after years of searching for a developer.

The 107-year-old building, which was renovated during World War II, housed offices for the Ben-Hur Life Association and other professional offices until closing sometime in the mid-2000s.

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