Proposed mega hotel hopes to attract more conventions to the Salt Lake area

By Bryan Pearson

Salt Lake City — A proposal to build a mega hotel downtown aims to both keep business conventions from leaving Salt Lake City, and attract new ones to the city center.

The proposal seeks to fill the demand for hotel rooms during business conventions such as Outdoor Retailers where patrons must book months in advance.

The idea for a new mega hotel is not new, Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Davis was the chief sponsor to the “New Convention Hotel Development Incentive Act” (SB267) in the 2013 General session of the State Legislature.  SB267 was approved in the Senate but failed to pass in the House of Representatives.

Mayor Ben McAdams will again seek approval for the convention hotel in the 2014 General Session of the Legislature.

“This hotel would really allow us to get more conventions here and larger conventions, our competitive set of cities is slowly pulling market share away from us and we’d love to bring that back to Utah,” said Nick Como, the communications director for the downtown Alliance.

The bill would enact a post performance tax that would subsidize the cost of the hotel through rebates, meaning the government will not charge the new convention hotel sales or property tax for a period of time in order to help subsidize the cost, projected at around $335 million.

Marmot’s team manager speaks with a possible buyer at the Outdoor Retailer convention.

“The bill as proposed in the past provides a tax subsidy to a new hotel … a better policy would be [to] limit the incentive to when you actually drive new mega conventions to Salt Lake,” said, Royce Van Tassell Vice President of the Utah Taxpayers Association.

“Just last year alone we lost 27 conventions because we don’t have this hotel, and that would have brought 150,000 people that would have spent well over $100 million shopping, dining, and all of that other stuff. They specifically did not choose Salt Lake because of the [lack of a] convention center hotel. This meeting planner said ‘we’d love to come to salt lake but the number one reason we cannot is because you don’t have a convention center hotel,'” said Como.

Alex Gilbert, a team manager for Marmot from Santa Rosa Calif. said, “[The mega hotel] sounds terrible. Just traveling to this town and seeing the agricultural haze that’s going on, I don’t think there needs to be much more work put into it, its pretty gross to come here and breathe the air.  Me personally, I feel like Salt Lake is as big as it needs to be, and maybe [Marmot is] just bigger than that.”

Meredith Maldonado, Sigg’s privately contracted public relations specialist said, “Obviously you’ve got to be an early bird about [finding hotel rooms] but we’ve always had a good smooth time.”

The convention hotel will boast between 800 and 1000 guest rooms, with convention halls on the lower floors.  It is unclear at this time who is sponsoring the bill,  and what changes have been or will be made to seek approval for the hotel.

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Categories: SLC, Utah Legislature, Utah News

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