Is Marriott Hotel’s expansion throwing good tax payer money after bad?

“The math is simple.

“If the Lancaster County Convention Center wants to attract bigger numbers of large conventions, it needs bigger numbers of nearby, convention-quality hotel rooms.

“And right now, despite 299 rooms in the adjoining Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, plus 134 more at The Hotel Lancaster two blocks away, research studies show that downtown is coming up short.”

Thus opens the Internet lead posting “Downtown Marriott’s owner proposes 96-room, $23M expansion”, an article we have been advised ran in January but again somehow popped up on our screen a few days ago when we visited Lancasteronline.com.

Note that the only discussion is what additional hotel rooms will do on the relatively rare days that major Convention Center activities might require more rooms than the 300 of the Marriott and the projected fully modernized (largely at city taxpayer risk) 224 +/- of the Lancaster Hotel (formerly the Brunswick.)

There is no Feasibility Study mentioned determining whether there is a market for the additional 96 rooms.

In fact, we question whether there was a Feasibility Study for the renovation of the Lancaster Hotel to be largely funded CRIZ financing, guaranteed by City taxpayers, a gift to the recipients, and to be prayerfully repaid out of future non-real estate related tax revenues generated by the project.

And even then, the “gift” will be at the expense of future generations since they won’ thane the benefits of the tax revenue.

We challenge Penn Square Partners and the City of Lancaster to obtain a professional Feasibility Study from one of the national recognized firms, such as PKF and PriceWaterhouse.

Of course the Convention Center Authority refused to obtain a study for the initial project and the PKF Study ordered by the then county commissioners accurately predicted the insolvency of the future Center. For the history of how the Convention Center project was developed by ‘hook and by crook’,
visit the NewsLanc Convention Center series.

Since then two additional bail outs at pubic expense have had to take place. The first when last year County Commissioners assumed full responsibility for the repayment of Convention Center bond debt, and now with $5 million of CRIZ money about to be donated to the Center.

Within another decade, title to the City owned Marriott Hotel, presumably with its additional 96 rooms, will be turned over to operator Penn Square Partners for a token payment. So the public will be stuck not only with paying the debts on the Convention Center, for the CRIZ gift to the Center, the CRIZ gift to the Lancaster Hotel, but also for the debt on the new addition to the Marriott.

All of these outlay having to do with keeping the Convention Center solvent and open.

We will discuss LNP’s disreputable involvement from the outset which continues to this very day in a subsequent article along with recommendations concerning what actions the public might take.

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Updated: November 9, 2015 — 12:32 pm

4 Comments

  1. Gee….I wonder why LNP chose to NOT include this in the print newspaper?

    Afraid of backlash?
    Afraid of cancelled subscriptions?
    Afraid that cancelled subscriptions would lead to cancelled advertising?

    All of the above????

  2. The question is are they making money. If not, why throw more at it. That would be a total waste of tax payers money.

  3. LNP is desperate to rake in whatever they can before their newspaper business folds. Gil Smart is leaving LNP in just a few weeks, and I suspect he will be leading a small parade of the few actual journalists they have left. The end is near.

  4. They’re still in the red, but not by much as a percentage, and most businesses lose money for several years after opening. I say expand away, steal conventions from Philly, Jersey and Baltimore, and keep the ball rolling.

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