The $15 million grant from the Commonwealth, and the revenue from the hotel room tax, provided the LCCCA with millions of dollars to defend the project in court, and to acquire property for the proposed development. After buying the Oblender furniture store and properties at 45-49 S. Queen Street and 21 and 23 E. Vine Street for about $1.3 million, the Authority found itself presented with another public relations predicament.
Tag: lccca series
The bitter acrimony among the Lancaster citizenry that would mark the next decade of the convention center’s history began to show itself by the year 2000. Dozens of Lancaster County hotel and motel owners – who now paid a 5% tax for every room rented – filed a joint lawsuit against the project sponsors in March. Ron Harper, Jr., with his video camera, website, and indefatigable energy, was unleashed and asking uncomfortable questions to proponents of the project wherever he found them.
After PKF was chosen in mid-February 2006, many critics of the Convention Center project turned their attention to the payments made by the Convention Center Authority to the law firm at the center of virtually every aspect of this project: Stevens & Lee.
Lancaster County Ordinance number 44 of 1999 established a five percent room rental tax for every hotel and motel occupied in Lancaster County. Beginning on January 1, 2000, whether hotel and motel owners raised their prices by five percent, or took the levy out of existing rates…
(Twentieth in a series) While the uncertainty of the convention center project did not affect the die-hard incumbent Republican Charlie Smthgall’s campaign for Mayor of Lancaster in 2005, it did influence his Democrat opponent, Rick Gray. Gray was a local defense and ACLU attorney with a reputation for representing the disreputable. The burly, goateed, bow-tied […]
In September of 2005, the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority (LCCCA) board of directors would have been firmly counted in the sponsors’ column. At the LCCCA’s inception in September, 1999, both the County Board of Commissioners and the Lancaster city mayoralty were controlled by strong supporters of the project.
With Robert Field added to the growing number of those openly questioning the convention center and hotel project, sponsors of the project now faced formidable opposition.
Until 2005, Robert Field, was largely unknown to the general Lancaster County public, a place that had been his home for almost 40 years. But the Philadelphia-born Field, then in his late sixties, was not completely anonymous in Lancaster.
With the RACL purchase of the Watt & Shand building, the city authority would now apply for state loans or bonds on two issues of $24 million and $12 million, totaling $36 million. The bonds for the $12 million issue would be funneled through the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) under the Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Program (IFIP), ratified in 1990.
The rejection by the Lancaster School Board of Penn Square Partners’ TIF proposal was understandably disappointing to project sponsors. They were used to getting what they asked for from governmental bodies. And while the funereal words they chose after the vote were, at best, disingenuous, no one could argue the sponsors didn’t have a reason to be upset.
During the first frigid weeks of the Lancaster winter of 2005, Nevin D. Cooley, president of Penn Square Partners (PSP), was quietly going around town meeting with Lancaster’s elected officials, paying particular attention to the board members and solicitors for the School District of Lancaster (SDL).
Lancaster County Commissioners Paul Thibault and Ron Ford had very good reason for passing the controversial convention center county bond guaranty just before the midnight hour of their terms. The two lame duck commissioners who voted for the guaranty in the week before the November, 2003, general election were aware that if they didn’t get it done then, there would be no county guaranty under their successors.
The story of the Lancaster County Convention Center begins with an obscure law called the “Third-Class County Convention Center Authority Act” that was passed in the Pennsylvania legislature and signed by Governor Robert Casey on December 27, 1994.
Sponsors of the convention center and hotel project were riding waves of victory at the close of 2001 and the beginning of 2002. On September 12, 2001, decorum be damned, with bodies still smoldering beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center, the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority decided to hold its scheduled meeting to determine which firm would manage the public convention center.