Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Downtown Hotel Deal - Good For Who?

Has Nothing To Do With Conferences

You have to wonder if it really was necessary to giveaway $10,000,000 by way of a tax holiday to get the 'hotel' deal downtown adjacent the conference centre.

The whole rationale behind the hotel tax exemption bylaw was to encourage a hotelier to build an upscale hotel adjacent the conference centre, which would then allow us to attract bigger and better conferences to our underused centre. This hotel would seem to not do that at all, and in fact is taking away up to 255 parking spaces from the conference centre to serve hotel 'guests'.

As this deal unfolds we are already beginning to see just how sharp and tough our city 'negotiator' Mr. Howatt and NEDC head Mr. Angus really are, and how they were able to give the SSS group pretty much everything they were likely asking for.

The first little deal has to do with the parking stalls at VICC which originally was going to see the hotel allowed to use 190 of them at a cost of $95/month, which is what the Casino is currently paying. Turns out they now want up to 255 and they want to pay for them at a rate of $3.17 per day that they are used...... not the same deal at all.

So, not only are they not providing parking in their own hotel, they will be taking up just about all the parking under the VICC to service their guests, who most likely will have nothing to do with the conference centre. So if we book a large conference and delegates want to drive to the event, where are they to park? Good question Mr. Howat, and Mr. Angus.

The other little change of plan, seems instead of 17 floors they want to build 20 floors instead, which also increases the number of units available for rent/sale.

The entire building 'could' be stratified, and 'all' of the suites 'could' be sold as condos, which may or may not be made available for rental. Of course right now we are being told the owners can only live in them 2 weeks a year, and have to make them available for rent, the rest of the time. But of course, I doubt if the city will have any real control over that, once we are that far down the road.

The other little eye raiser about this whole deal, is the fact the hotelier has only had to put up $100,000 to swing this whole deal, and has 18 months before actually having to have a foundation in the ground.

I am not really sure what the city negotiators were able to spare us from, but I suspect it will become apparent just how much of the farm we have given away over the fullness of time.


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