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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Convention Center Hotel Price Tag: $250 million

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 6:21 PM

For years, the Portland Development Commission has been pushing to build a giant Headquarters Hotel next to the Convention Center, saying that "The lack of a HQ Hotel is the primary obstacle to attract more national/international conventions." Today, the PDC got an updated cost estimate on the proposed four-star, 600 room hotel from Ashforth designs: $247 million, higher than any previous estimate.

The giant price tag is okay because this is a project which will solve EVERYTHING, according to the PDC. Here's their list of benefits:
* $49 million estimated annual new expenditures by delegates, organizers and exhibitors
* $104 million in annual business sales; $1.4 billion over 20 years
* Approximately 1,500 new jobs created

The hotel operator, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, expects to make a $6.1 million profit the first year. At that rate, the hotel will soon pay back the public bonds Metro is expected to use to finance the project and Portland Eastside will be rolling in dough.

Unless... no one shows up, the Convention center remains cob-webbed and the hotel can't maintain a 58% occupancy rate for its $150/night rooms. Then Metro and the public will be in the whole millions of dollars and we'll have this ugly building on filling two blocks along MLK.

conventioncenterhotel.jpg

Ashforth designs exclusively glass and steel monoliths and the Convention Center Headquarters Hotel's black and boxy design definitely relates better to the cars and pavement surrounding it than the overwhelmed pedestrian humans.

I'm skeptical of the rosy visions of a hotel saving the Convention Center -- is the prospect of convention goers having to ride the Max for free across the river really the primary obstacle in attracting conventions to Portland? Public comments on the project accepted from now until October so weigh in at Metro.

Also: even if Metro doesn't wind up approving the project in October, don't worry! Large amounts of money will still be spent! The just-finished study to determine the project's price tag cost Metro $600,000.

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