Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mayor Trims Hotel's Public Share ; Subsidy Reduced to $31.5M to Sway Council

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Mayor Trims Hotel's Public Share ; Subsidy Reduced to $31.5M to Sway Council

Article excerpt

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said Friday the Downtown convention hotel project is being trimmed so the public's share of financing would be reduced by $6 million, from $37.5 million to $31.5 million. Six of the nine City Council members have declared their opposition to the original proposal over the past few days, calling $37.5 million too large a subsidy.

Winnecke, speaking minutes after confirming the scaled-down figure with developer HCW, said he's hopeful the reduced subsidy will sway at least some of those members.

The City Council is to vote Monday on the hotel project's financing. The full project, when combining the costs of the city and HCW, is now to be $70.3 million.

Winnecke said the cuts are being achieved in two ways

A building beside the Ford Center that was to combine a storage room for the arena and retail space is being eliminated.

HCW agreed to pick up $1 million in additional cost to build the hotel, leaving the city's share at $19 million.

The hotel itself remains a 253-room Hilton DoubleTree. Winnecke said he considered it important to keep the property that size so Evansville's ability to attract larger meetings would not be compromised.

"We could reduce the room count. But that makes it more and more difficult to get the quality of meetings and conventions that we think we need," Winnecke said. "We talked to (Convention & Visitors Bureau Director) Bob Warren and got his input. He really feels 225 probably cuts it too close. We really think 253 is the number that gets us and keeps us in the market we need to be in."

The six members who said they would vote against the earlier version of the hotel plan were President Connie Robinson, D-4th Ward; Vice President Dan Adams, D-At-large

Finance Chairman John Friend, D-5th Ward; Stephanie Brinkerhoff- Riley, D-3rd Ward; Al Lindsey, D-6th Ward; and Conor O'Daniel, D- At-large.

A citizens group and existing hoteliers in Evansville have criticized the plan and its public subsidy.

O'Daniel said he spoke to Winnecke earlier Friday, before the changes to the plan were announced.

"This doesn't change my mind," he said of the revised plan. …

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