Renovating and redeveloping one of Evansville's iconic buildings, the former Riverhouse Hotel, proves to be full of challenges but progress continues to be made.
Developers went before city officials Monday morning to get approval of their plans to turn the dilapidated building into Evansville's newest hotel. But officials had concerns about where future customers will park.
Huddled around the table, it looks like a meeting of the president's cabinet. Instead of the Secretaries of State or Defense, you have fire inspectors and building commissioners.
"It's what we call site review," said Ben Miller of the City-County Building Commission. "All the departments that sign off on a project get together and we review it kind of in unison."
Meanwhile, George Yerolemou patiently waits his turn and his plans for the former Riverhouse Hotel wait too.
"It's a very aggravating process but it has to be done," said Yerolemou. "It's not something I'm just going through. It's something everybody goes through."
Mired in legal disputes, bankruptcy and neglect, the Riverhouse building falls further into disrepair. Yeromelou bought the once premier property in the summer of 2012 and then announced his plans to turn it into a hotel under the Comfort Inn and Suites flag.
"To be able to go through to get all the permits to start construction, one of the hurdles you have to get over is make sure the parking lot is approved," said Yerolemou. "Originally, we started with 91 rooms and now we're down to 87. But it seems like we'll have to go a few rooms down to accommodate having enough parking spaces."
"It's certainly a challenge, tat's for sure," said Miller. "But I think anything is possible with enough resources."
And apparently enough patience too. When it come to a choice between graffiti or government, Yerolemou will take a day in the Civic Center 'war room' every single time.
"We're moving on," said Yerolemou. "It's been slower than we anticipated but we're moving on."
Yerolemou says they're still trying to figure out what to do with the restaurant space on the sixth floor. Also, Yerolemou says there's no timetable on when construction might start.