Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Costs for Hotel Too High, Say Officials [Corrected 06/03/13] ; 3 on Council Want Changes

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Costs for Hotel Too High, Say Officials [Corrected 06/03/13] ; 3 on Council Want Changes

Article excerpt

Three Evansville City Council leaders visited Mayor Lloyd Winnecke last week and told him they believe a convention hotel plan being considered for Downtown is too costly. Developer HCW and the city are in talks about a 253-room, 12-story Doubletree by Hilton, an upscale apartment complex and related projects on the former Executive Inn site. The city's share, under the current plan, would be $37.5 million in bond financing, with $20 million for the hotel and $17.5 million for a parking garage, connections between the hotel property, the Centre and the Ford Center, and a streetscape, along with retail space.

In total, the development is to cost about $70 million.

Final approval of the financing lies with City Council. The three members who met with Winnecke - Finance Chairman John Friend, D-5th Ward, President Connie Robinson, D-4th Ward, and Vice President Dan Adams, D-At-large - told the mayor they want the project scaled back, Friend said.

"We told him we're not against the hotel concept," Friend said. "But, my gosh, it's so much money. It just is. Most of my constituents, folks I talk with, have a problem with it."

Friend said he'd like to see the hotel's per-room construction cost, and he said he's "leaning" toward endorsing the apartment complex be cut from the plan.

Although the apartments are to be funded entirely by the developer, Friend said that part of the project "indirectly" impacts the city's cost share. "It's going to make us build a larger parking garage."

Winnecke said eliminating apartments from the plan "is a bad idea, at best."

"One thing that really attracted us to HCW was their outside- the-box thinking," Winnecke said. "To eliminate a significant piece of a private equity (is a bad idea.)"

Council members also told Winnecke they were concerned conference space proposed for the hotel could steer meeting and reception business away from The Centre, Friend said.

Winnecke replied that the issue has already been addressed, because the proposed hotel's conference space is half what it was under the city's original request for proposals. …

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