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Monday, August 20, 2012

Convention Center Kool-Aid leaves bitter taste in North Carolina

The Charlotte convention facility -- including the hotel that was supposed to pull it out of its doldrums -- has been a flop:

In the summer of 1997, the Charlotte City Council listened to a presentation from a new consultant about why its center was underperforming.

The consultant, Jeff Sachs, who is managing partner of a Georgia-based firm, Strategic Advisory Group, told council members they were "one-third of the way there" and that they "have some work to do regarding this and they need to step in the right direction."

That work included building a hotel nearby so convention attendees wouldn't have far to walk. The city decided to invest $16 million in building the 700-room Westin, which opened in 2003. That was about 10 percent of the hotel’s construction cost....

The opening of the Westin produced some short-term increase in business, though nowhere near projections. Bookings then receded to levels before the hotel opened.

But it's going to be different in Portland. Really! So ignore common-sense discussion like this, Portlandia. Waylon Hughes and Psychedelic Rex know better:

The construction of the Westin and the Crown Ballroom pushed up the city's total debt payment on the Convention Center to roughly $22 million annually.

In fiscal year 2011, if the center's costs were divided by the total number of hotel rooms booked, the taxpayer cost per room would be $210.

That means each time a convention attendee booked a hotel room for one night, taxpayers had essentially paid for that room.

And for meetings in which hotels lowered their rates significantly, which is common, taxpayers also bought their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Can't wait. Go by streetcar!

Comments (3)

"Convention-al" thinking goes way beyond the abilities of the political class...

If the Convention Center Hotel made sense, the politicians that have six figure salaries who have had all of the financial homework paid for by the taxpayers would be investing their personal life savings and 401(k)s in the hotel project themselves.

The fact they personally refuse to sign their name on the dotted line speaks volumes about the financial viability of these sorts of projects.

Heck - Fred Hansen (remember, TriMet's light rail Empire Builder) bailed and jetted off to Australia the second he could. And many of the elitists that proclaim how wonderful downtown Portland is...are safely behind fenced and gated compounds in Lake Oswego and West Linn.

Charlotte? Puh-leeze, we are soooooooo much smarter than Charlotte. I mean, dear God, if you think Charlotte is so smart maybe you should move there.

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