After Several Incarnations Sheraton Slated To Come Down
September 11, 2013
Steve Walsh Lakeshore Public Radio
The Sheraton Hotel on Broadway in Downtown Gary has been vacant for the past 25 years. The building has gone through several lives, even being used as a billboard when Donald Trump brought the Miss USA pageant to the city in 2001 and 2002. The city Redevelopment Commission recently voted to seek bids to demolish the building. Estimated to cost $2.5 million, it could come down as early as November.
The building that saw its last patrons in 1985. The Sheraton originally opened as a Holiday Inn February 18, 1971, just as development began moving south. It closed in January 31, 1975. Gary Attorney Douglas Grimes was president of Steel Plaza, Inc., a group of local business people asked by Mayor Richard Hatcher to revive the hotel in 1978, as part of the downtown redevelopment project that eventually included the Genesis Convention Center and the nearby Hudson Campbell Fitness Center. None of them had run a hotel.
Director of Redevelopment for the City of Gary Joseph VanDyk is said, aside from Steel Plaza, former Mayor Rudy Clay attempted to rehabilitate the 12 story Sheraton as senior housing in a plan that eventually fizzled. The hotel has seen its last revival. Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson made tearing down the building part of her campaign. October 16 the city plans to open bids for a demolition contract for the Sheraton.
In the late 1970s, investors were trying to do more than renovate the downtown. Back then, they felt like they were helping to save a city that was seeing investment draining into the suburbs, competing against Star Plaza in Merrillville, with little help from US Steel, who Grimes said rarely used the hotel down the street from their main gates. There was some public money but little else.
The city plans the leave the site as green space and eventually create a park. VanDyk calls the strategy hitting singles and doubles rather than attempting home runs.