Monday, October 05, 2009

Downtown Hotel Site

Is Hotel The Answer To Conventions?

The vacant lot behind the VICC sits behind a chain link fence waiting for someone to build the much anticipated hotel which is supposed to make a success of the convention centre.

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it is clear the hotel should have been the first thing the developer was required to build before proceeding with the $100 million convention centre which is currently costing city taxpayers nearly $1 million a year to operate, that cost of course is in addition to the cost of repaying the reported $72 million it cost to build.

In what can only be described as colossal mismanagement on the part of city councils and city staff who were clearly outmatched by Millennium Suro, we now have a convention centre capable of hosting conventions for which Nanaimo has no hotel accomodations.

Touting a hotel as the key to attracting bigger and better conventions VICC staff and city council are trying to attract someone to build and operate a hotel on the site. Of course if the business propostion were sound, they would not have to go looking for anyone. Would you build a hotel to accomodate conventions that 'might' be booked 'if' you build a hotel? It doesn't make good business sense does it? It seems the banks don't think so either.

Currently the City of Nanaimo is advertising for a real estate developer/genius who may be able to attract someone to build a hotel on the site. Of course at this stage it is not clear what the city taxpayers will have to give up to build such a hotel, since you can bet the builders will want the city to sweeten the offer.

Before the city embarks on more ' in camera ' meetings with developers deciding how much more of our tax dollars are going to support the VICC the current council needs to set out some clear guidelines as to just what is required to make a success of this venture and how much more it is going to cost taxpayers.

The city document (advertising for a hotel promoter) currently states the hotel should be at least 170 rooms, yet is does not state if all of those rooms need be available year round, or if they can be owner occupied as was the case with the Millennium proposal.

Where did the number 170 come from? Is there some study which shows that 170 more rooms to rent will make a success of convention sales in the future? Or does the mismanagement of the VICC still continue with this new council?


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