Omni Hotel After Renovation

Luxury hotel undergoes complete renovation without disruption to guests

A stone’s throw away, and in perfect view of the Lucas Oil stadium, is the historic Omni Severin Hotel, a stunning, historic four-diamond luxury hotel that originally opened its doors in 1913 as The Grand Hotel of Indianapolis.
The Omni Severin celebrated its 100th birthday in 2013, and in preparation, the hotel completed an $8 million renovation of all 424 rooms and corridors of its 11 floors. From disruption avoidance management to nuanced and complex decision-making, renovating the Omni Severin was no small undertaking.
Omni’s corporate operations team turned to the team at Cicero’s Development Corporation, a 40-year renovations specialist focusing on hotels. Sam Cicero, Sr., his sons Sam Jr. and Thomas, led a crew of more than 70 renovation specialists and experienced subcontractors. On the front line was Cicero’s in-house architect Steve Glenn, assistant Jason Stace, and on-site project superintendent Bob Newberg, who managed day-to-day operations. The team worked 12 to 14 hours a day and through weekends until the job was completed 4 days ahead of deadline and in time for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
“One of the things we were able to do with Cicero’s was to meet daily to discuss the next 24 to 48 hours and understand the tasks and the potential impact on guests,” says Kevin Latone, Omni Severin general manager. “If we knew some work was going to be done, we looked at how our guests might be impacted. We wanted to limit the noisy construction to specific hours based on occupancy and place guests in different areas of the hotel accordingly.”
The Omni Severin’s 424 rooms are comprised of 64 different room types, including 13 rooms specially designed to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The Omni Severin’s last major renovation took place in 1986 when two new wings expanded all floors to accommodate demand for more guest rooms and expand the hotel’s majestic presence in Indy’s historic Wholesale District.

Cicero’s team value-engineered workable, cost-effective solutions designed to solve issues and control costs for Omni.

Each of the two wings was expanded and the center courtyard was filled in with a combination of meeting rooms. Stacked on top were additional guest rooms and suites, with the 12th and 13th floors comprising two-level luxury suites with picturesque views of the Greater Indianapolis area.


The Cicero’s crew renovated floor-by-floor, gutting and removing existing carpeting and wallpaper, replacing old furniture and artwork with new pieces, and delivering a fresh, contemporary renewal to each room.
Donning paint and sweat on their clothes, masks at times to protect from breathing dust, and an array of tools, shop vacs, tarp, and protective covers, the team used just one service elevator to move material and furniture in and out of the hotel. Working closely with the hotel staff to schedule elevator movement between daily housekeeping and room service needs, as well as movement from the lower level kitchen to the second level banquet area, Cicero’s coordinated a tight schedule while maintaining a business as usual atmosphere for hotel guests. Another complicating factor—no loading dock or storage space, making additional off-site warehousing and transportation a necessity.
The renovation removed and replaced more than 22,828 square yards of carpeting and padding, refurbished 2,221 doors, painted 2,253 door frames and 41,169 linear feet of wood crown molding, base, and trim, 871 grills, and nearly 40,000 square feet of ceiling.
“We got it down to a system,” Cicero, Sr. says. “Earlier in the project we pushed hard, had a few hick-ups, but those were ironed out quickly. One of the things I think we are great at is surprise management: anticipating hurdles, evaluating options, and preparing contingency plans for unforeseen scenarios.”


“You have to plan, then re-plan, and re-plan again,” Cicero, Sr. says. “Our team met twice-daily—early mornings and in the evenings. We shared ideas, looked ahead, and found that by writing out our ideas on wall-to-wall whiteboards, our ideas, goals, and activities became much clearer and more defined overnight. We became better prepared to hit the ground running the next day.”
Cicero’s liaised on a daily basis with Omni management and key department heads to ensure quality on the job and efficiency in meeting deadlines. Cicero’s project superintendent Bob Newberg would lead 7 a.m. meetings with the crew and key subcontractors, an 8:15 a.m. meeting with Omni Severin chief operating engineer Carl Kelle, and more meetings with Burnelle Goldman (in charge of guest rooms and suites), and Latone to discuss any changes or alterations that may impact schedules.
“We communicated diligently with the hotel, discussing issues and sharing ideas. Top of mind was the guest experience and guest sensitivity to noise, along with other issues like parking, materials delivery, and service elevator usage,” Newberg says. “Everything had to be coordinated tightly.”
“It’s all a part of project management, and planning is key,” Cicero, Sr. adds. “We want all of our clients to make money and that’s why they trust us with their projects.”
For Latone, the renovation boiled down to Cicero’s ability to understand the hotel’s needs.
“Cicero’s understood we are in the service industry and that our guests come here to rest, relax, and enjoy themselves—they got it,” Latone says. “They partnered with us with that in mind and realized they were representing our hotel. The guests didn’t care if they were contractors or subcontractors; they viewed the renovation team as representative of the hotel.”

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About the AuthorSam Cicero, Sr., is the founder of Cicero’s Development Corporation, an established general contractor specializing in commercial renovation for more than 40 years. For more information, call 866.904.0141, or visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2014
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