Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Downtown Hotel Proposal Should Be Downsized to Fit ; COMMUNITY COMMENT

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Downtown Hotel Proposal Should Be Downsized to Fit ; COMMUNITY COMMENT

Article excerpt

Just thinking over the Downtown center hotel. John Dunn is a respected businessman. I don't take his comments lightly on his position Downtown. I'm more curious about outside interests and how we are affected by them. To wit: for the past 25 years the administration Downtown has tried to figure out the right mix for a sterling answer for a Downtown hotel. Each and every time they've come up empty. More money spent and no real accomplishment. Our casualty list of good intentions and unaffordable consulting fees look like Boot Hill. One may ask what's wrong? It's more amusing than alarming.

In a nutshell, they've come to no practical conclusion because they've used an outdated premise. The old Executive Inn was built when Evansville was considerably larger. Some 25,000 persons, I believe. And there weren't an additional 347 like-new rooms on the riverfront. Justifiably, you really can't continue to use the Executive Inn format for 220-plusrooms to plan from.

Secondly, I commend our Convention Bureau for encouraging a first-class facility Downtown. But luxury accommodations don't just mean size. It's more centered on being practical and functional. Under no circumstance would we want to build a new facility that can't pay for itself. The Convention Bureau itself needs a vibrant and financially healthy Downtown hotel to justify its own existence. Overbuilding is not the answer.

It's obvious if you think about it. No one's Downtown at the old Executive Inn site because 250 rooms aren't financially feasible there. Also, without a $20,000,000 allowance or gift from the city, the current investors wouldn't be coming either. That price also doesn't include an additional $5.6 million for a new parking garage.

Whatever your feelings are, we need to build a new Downtown center hotel and replace the rock heap eyesore debris that's next to the Ford Center. The previous administration left us in a bind. Mayor Winnecke is really trying hard to resolve this issue. And the DoubleTree Hotel chain is an outstanding operation. On the economic side, evidently, 70 percent of the Downtown business will be taken from existing business in town. …

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