Protest on downtown hotel could leave first convention in jeopar - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Protest on downtown hotel could leave first convention in jeopardy

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We've learned the first convention booked for Evansville's new downtown hotel could now be in jeopardy because of a protest filed against the hotel.

The work on the hotel is set to be finished by Fall 2015, but we're told the doors might not open in time for the first large convention the city already has booked.

As Director the Convention and Visitors Bureau, it's Bob Warren's job to attract conventions to Evansville and sell the city's newest hotel.

"We've already attended several conferences promoting the fact that we'll be open the Fall 2015," said Warren.

But now that could change depending on the time it takes Hilton Hotels to complete a market analysis.

"If this market analysis and this continues to delay, how are they supposed to go about their business?" asked Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

Mayor Winnecke says he's already reached out to the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns telling them there's a chance their convention that's scheduled for September 2015 might not happen in Evansville.  

The delay, brought on by a protest filed with Hilton Hotel by the Dunn Hospitality Group, could delay construction 60 to 80 days.

"We're not going to let this diversion derail the project," said Winnecke.

Winnecke says this delay will not affect the city's chances at landing the new IU Medical Center downtown.  

The location chosen will be announced next Friday, prompting some to question the timing of John Dunn's protest.

"If one's a conspiracy theorist, one might have to be curious about the timing of this, but it is what it is," said Winnecke.

As 14 News reported in July 2013, there was speculation that John Dunn of Dunn Hospitality had his sights on building a convention center of his own on property on North Burkhadt known as the Promenade.

He even told us this during an interview, "We're about to embark upon the largest hospitality project in the history of the company and we're going to do it right here in Evansville."

An official announcement never happened.  

The Promenade, where sources say his convention center could possibly be located, is in the running for the new I-U Medial Center.  

As is a site in downtown Evansville close to the city's new hotel.

Winnecke urged Dunn to withdraw his protest Tuesday, but Winnecke tells us he hasn't heard from Dunn.

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