EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – What was once the Jackson House and later the Bernie’s Little River House has now taken on a new look, and after 10 years it has finally opened its doors.

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites is open for business after what owner George Yerolemou says has been difficult process.

When Yerolemou bought the property in May of 2012, he says he never expected the process to take this long and the COVID pandemic made things even more difficult.

When they first tried to make the building a Holiday Inn, they received objections from Holiday Inn corporate but everything eventually came together.

“We were working to develop it as our Comfort Inn, Yerolemou said. “We even ordered all the furniture and everything. We started installing carpets and paintings and then when they came back we just started from scratch. Redesigned the hotel with new schemes that the Holiday Inn Express had. Went back to the drawing board and came up with a design.”

“Visit Evansville”, an organization promoting tourism in the city, believes the new hotel will serve travelers and organizations looking to bring events and conventions to the city.

“With the addition of their 79 rooms we have over 850 rooms in downtown Evansville so it really provides a larger footprint in the conventions and events industry but also it’s going to provide a different price point and touchpoint for business travelers,” says Megan Heronemus, director of sales for Visit Indiana.

Horonemus says she has observed how the building has changed over the last decade and looking forward to its future.

“I’ve heard a lot of the history, seen a lot of back and forth so the fact that it can be updated and renovated and a useful building rather than being torn down is tremendous,” Horonemus tells us.

George says to finally have the hotel operational has been a huge weight off his shoulders, but to join the downtown landscape makes things so much better.

“Definitely a place to have an extra option. We’re glad we’re happy to be part of everything that goes on downtown,” Yerolemou said. “I mean downtown is rejuvenating. I mean its changed a lot since I bought the hotel 10 years ago.”

The official ribbon cutting ceremony for the hotel will be on April 29th.