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Valparaiso Council concerned with parking at Grand Gardner Hotel

city of Valparaiso Indiana website

Plans to turn Valparaiso's former Boys & Girls Club into a boutique hotel are moving forward, but parking remains a concern for city council members. The city council is considering a planned unit development ordinance for the Grand Gardner Hotel. The project would re-purpose the 1899 Gardner School that for decades housed the Boys & Girls Club into a 58-room hotel, restaurant and banquet hall.

Attorney Todd Leeth, representing Urschel Development, says the site is currently zoned as a neighborhood conservation district. The proposed ordinance would let it be used for specific commercial purposes.

"It's a very significant, in my opinion, project for the city, certainly for my client," Leeth told council members Monday. "Urschel Development is proud to save an architectural treasure."

But council member Diana Reed questioned whether the 64 proposed parking spaces would be enough, if the hotel and banquet facility are full. "We shouldn't be repeating the lessons that we've already learned. And, right now, with Uptown, we're dealing with a road now that has been turned one-way, we have parking down there now where it is now permit parking and it's all due to overbuilding," Reed said.

Leeth felt that while the hotel plan might not have enough parking, it would technically meet the city's requirements. "We've always recognized that there needs to be parking alternatives, and the ordinance speaks to that," Leeth added.

He noted that the city lot is within walking distance, and the hotel could temporarily rent unused space elsewhere.

City planning director Beth Shrader said the redevelopment commission is hiring a consultant to look at parking demand and potential options. "As much as I want to ensure that the neighborhood is protected, I also don't want to overbuild parking facilities. I want to use other types of options to better use our existing parking resources," Shrader explained.

The city council is expected to vote on the planned unit development on May 22.