Cincinnati City, Congress, and Development officials have long complained that the City Convention Center’s Millennium Hotel is so outdated that it is affecting convention business.
Without the hotelier’s promise to make improvements, those same executives have a new plan – find someone to build a large, upscale hotel.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Cincinnati City, Congress and Development officials announced they were preparing to launch a call for proposals for a new hotel in the Convention Center on Fifth Street and Plum Street.
The new hotel would have at least 600 rooms and would be built on a three-acre parking lot south of the Duke Energy Convention Center.
The port, formerly known as the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority, bought the parking lot last year for $ 11.9 million, paving the way for the new plan.
The agency has committed to working with Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC), the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), and city and county leaders to redevelop the site.
“This is a missing piece of our city’s renaissance,” said Julie Calvert, President and CEO of CVB. “It’s a game changer that allows our city to win on a much larger basis.”
Officials have long complained that the city’s current convention center, the Millennium, is so out of date that it is affecting the convention business.
Not so, said the hotelier after the announcement.
“We have been proud corporate citizens of the Cincinnati community for more than 20 years, providing safe, clean rooms at affordable prices,” said Erik Anderouard, Senior Vice President, North America, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, welcoming the opportunity to have meaningful and productive discussions about how our hotel can continue to support Cincinnati’s long-term vision and vitality. “
A new first class convention center hotel will be key to bringing that business back to Cincinnati, Calvert said on Monday at the proposed hotel’s location.
There are 12 hotels in downtown Cincinnati, with two more boutique hotels under construction.
But none of them can handle conventions that require more than 800 rooms to be booked, executives say. As a result, large congress bookings have declined, as data from the CVB shows.
For example, in 2016 the CVB booked 37 conventions that would be considered large conventions. Compare that to 2018, when 12 conventions of the same type were booked.
“We strongly support the largest hotel we can get,” said Calvert. “We have pages of information from meeting planners who say they will come when we set up the hotel.”
Steve Leeper, President and CEO of 3CDC, said it would take about two and a half years to build the hotel once a developer is on board.
He said 3CDC is working with HVS, a global hospitality consultancy, to identify about half a dozen developers who might be interested in investing in the project.
A study by HVS has shown that the market can support a convention center hotel with at least 600 rooms as well as 40,000 to 60,000 square meters of flexible conference space and a 12,000 to 20,000 square meter ballroom.
According to Leeper, the proposed property is in a perfect location due to its proximity to the convention center, the size of the hotel and the fact that it is controlled by a public entity that the hotel wants the hotel to be there.
“It gives us all the tools we need,” he said.
City and county officials said they would cap the amount of public funding for the hotel to potentially include 30-year tax hike funding and revenue from the city’s hotel tax.
Mayor John Cranley said during the press conference that investing in a new downtown hotel would be a boon to the local economy.
“Recruiting people from out of town … is just a plus for everyone,” he said. “Ensuring that we have a five-star, flagship, high-end, multi-room property is critical.” if we want to compete with the major cities and regions of the country. ”
The urge for a new hotel continues to border on the Millennium, which has come under fire in recent weeks and does not meet the standards of a congress hotel.
Most recently, a Hamilton County attorney spokesman Joe Deters said the district attorney was considering filing a lawsuit that would declare the Millennium a nuisance.
A lawsuit could potentially close the hotel, which is directly across from the Convention Center on Elm Street.
Millennium officials said a harassment complaint was not warranted.
Joe Savarise, executive director of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, hailed the city’s efforts to land a new hotel.
“It is clear that everyone in the hotel industry is supporting the development of the Convention Center and Convention Center,” said Savarise. “This is good for all the hotels in the area.”
Savarise said Cincinnati needs more downtown hotel rooms if it is to compete for larger conventions and other events with cities of similar size.
“Check out what’s happening in Columbus. There will be another 1,000 room hotel attached to the convention center along with a number of other hotels that will serve the convention center, ”he said, referring to the downtown Hilton hotel that is prepared for an extension.
Savarise said now may be the best time in recent years to attract a new downtown hotel as developments take place in and around the area, including the Cincinnati FC’s new $ 250 million football stadium in the West End is built.
“More exciting things are happening in and around downtown than ever before,” he said. “Developers will look at all of these things together.”‘