The people behind the downtown Lancaster taxpayer-financed hotel and convention center project have been EXTREMELY aggressive in bringing business to their facility. Consequently, the project has not yet “failed miserably”.
But it has indeed failed.
In 2010, the convention center LOST just over $1,400,000 taxpayer dollars to bring in more than $1,300,000 in revenue. This might not be so bad if it would have created an even greater amount of economic development, but where is it?
Since the project’s construction bonds were sold in March of 2007, many more businesses have closed or moved out of downtown Lancaster than have opened. The only direct benefit to taxpayers has been the construction of a new Subway restaurant across King Street from the hotel. Other businesses may have benefited in some ways from the project, however many downtown Lancaster merchants complain that their business drops off substantially whenever a sizable convention is in town. And the first and second blocks of East King Street – in the shadow of the hotel tower – are still an economic disaster area, with more vacancies than occupied properties.
Meanwhile, the School District of Lancaster is facing ever increasing deficits. Because the Penn Square Partners refuses to pay real estate taxes on their “private” hotel (with their building owned by Lancaster City), property owners in Lancaster City and Township are now paying more than they would be had the Penn Square Partners kept their word.
This project has clearly failed to keep its promises to local taxpayers.