City no longer will pay for hotel studies

Published 7:04 pm Thursday, February 11, 2016

Any future studies regarding the feasibility of a hotel for downtown Washington will not be funded by the City of Washington.

The City Council, during its meeting Monday, unanimously voted to no longer spend city money on such studies, something the city has done several times in recent years. Any such study in the future will have to be paid for by other sources such as a private developer, council members said.

The most-recent such study by PKF Consulting USA — the city paid $4,000 for it — determined that although a downtown hotel site would provide great views of the city’s waterfront, building and operating a hotel there would be economically feasible. That’s what other studies have concluded.

“Mr. Manager, this is the third or fourth study that we have done. I think that the number that was given to us several weeks ago was that we spent $70,000-$75,000 (on those studies) to date. Basically, every one of those studies has said the proposed site downtown was a beautiful site … and every one of the reports basically says that a hotel chain or hotel down there would not work; that the possibility is a high-end, boutique-type facility,” Councilman Doug Mercer said. “I think we’ve spent enough money having the same conversation repeated to us in each of the studies. In my opinion … we don’t need to spend anymore money downtown having anymore studies done to give us the same information.”

Councilman Richard Brooks agreed with Mercer, saying the city immediately stop its role in regard to efforts to bring a hotel to downtown. “I think we need to let someone else take the ball and run with it,” he said.

In September, the council voted to spend $4,000 for an evaluation regarding the feasibility of someone building a hotel in the city’s downtown district. That contract was awarded to PKF Consulting USA to provide advisory services related to potential development of the former Belk building and Hotel Louise into a 51-room boutique hotel. The evaluation, part of the advisory services, would determine whether the proposed project has a good chance of succeeding. Councilmen Larry Beeman and Richard Brooks voted in the affirmative, with council members Doug Mercer and William Pitt voting in the negative. Mayor Mac Hodges broke the tie, siding with Beeman and Brooks.

The latest downtown hotel proposal was connected with a redevelopment plan involving the University of North Carolina’s School of Government.




About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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