- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - A contractor could start work in the coming weeks on a planned 10-story hotel and apartment complex in downtown Evansville that has faced recent delays.

Project officials announced Tuesday that Indianapolis-based Hunt Construction has been picked as the builder. Developers sought new bids after the first round of proposals came back above the project’s $71 million budget.

Developer HCW officials then made design changes to bring down costs for building the complex, which is to include a Hilton DoubleTree with about 245 rooms, a 78-unit apartment tower and a parking garage, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the hotel was held in March with a projected fall 2015 opening, but that has been pushed back to 2016.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said he expects final steps in the next few weeks will allow construction to begin.

“Obviously, it’s not gone on the timeline that we would have liked,” Winnecke told WFIE-TV. “We would have liked to have had steel coming out of the ground, but we’ve had a number of delays that have been very well documented but we’re proceeding.”

The City Council last year approved a $20 million city subsidy for the project. Supporters argued the new hotel was needed to boost Evansville’s convention business, which has declined since the former Executive Inn shut down five years ago and was later demolished.

The complex will include sky bridges to the city’s convention center and the $127 million Ford Center arena that opened in 2011.

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