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Kovalchick Complex Hotel Project Expected to Move Forward Following Legislation Approval

The plan to construct an adjoining hotel for the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex is projected to move forward.

House Bill 2275, signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on November 23, 2010, allows 3.35 acres of land owned by the Department of General Services to be transferred to IUP to serve as the site of the hotel.

“Senator Don White and Representative Dave Reed and their staffs, along with IUP Council of Trustees member Colleen Kopp, have been absolutely critical to the success of this legislation,” Dr. David Werner, interim president, said. “With the challenges of the economic downturn, having the land be part of the hotel project is absolutely necessary to ensure appropriate financing by the developer to complete the project.”

Werner also recognized the Department of General Services Bureau of Real Estate and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for their assistance in helping to move the project forward.

The $600,000 needed to complete the land transfer is expected to be part of hotel development costs borne by a joint venture partnership of the Foundation for IUP and a private developer. “The presence of a hotel will add significantly to the financial success of the Kovalchick Complex and its ability to attract events and use by event planners throughout the region,” Werner said. “In addition, the financial stability the hotel is projected to provide can offset the operational costs of the Kovalchick Complex and lessen the impact of its operational costs for the university.”

This legislation is a critical first step to enable the hotel project to move forward, but a timeframe for hotel construction has not yet been determined, Werner said.

A marketing feasibility study for the Kovalchick Complex, completed by Brailsford & Dunlavey in 2005, noted that the facility would increase demand for hotel accommodations in the Indiana area.

In 2008, the Foundation for IUP Hotel Committee commissioned a feasibility study by Hotel and Leisure Advisors for a proposed hotel. In addition to the size of the hotel, the study recommended that the proposed hotel be an upscale, full-service facility that provides rooms composed of both standard and upgraded suites.

The study also recommended banquet and meeting spaces to complement the Kovalchick Complex, along with a hotel franchise restaurant, lobby bar, and a separate restaurant with its own identity.

Plans are also in the works for possible collaborations among hotel management, IUP’s Hospitality Management Department, and the Academy of Culinary Arts.

The Kovalchick Complex is a 150,000-square-foot building that will offer the 4,000- to 5,000-seat Ed Fry Arena, the 650-seat Christine Toretti auditorium, athletic department administrative offices, and conference facilities.

To be completed in March 2011, the Kovalchick Complex is projected to have a $22-million economic impact on the region during construction and an annual economic impact of $12.5 million in each year of operation.