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Request For Proposals Sent For New Convention Center Hotel

Bill Rinehart
A new headquarter hotel would bump the Millennium from that role.

Cincinnati and Hamilton County leaders are taking the first step in building a new hotel at 5th and Plum. It would be the official hotel for the convention center. The city, county, Port and 3CDC are sending out a request for proposals.

Cincinnati Center City Development's Steve Leeper says attracting a developer will depend on the economics of the situation. He says 3CDC has done the research.

"I think a lot of people were concerned that having an abundant supply of hotel rooms might have had a negative ability to do this hotel," Leeper says. "But it was quite the opposite. Not only do we feel that there is a market but the tide is going to lift all the boats."

Leeper says with an aggressive developer, the 800-room hotel could be operational in two and a half years or so.

The president of the convention and visitors bureau says a new hotel downtown will help attract bigger conventions. Julie Calvert says a new hotel at 5th and Plum is the missing piece in Cincinnati's renaissance. "National planners often require hundreds of rooms per hotel for their conventions. And a headquarter hotel, which would give us those much-needed rooms, will be the game changer needed to allow our city to compete and win on a much bigger basis."

Calvert says the size of conventions coming to Cincinnati has been shrinking because of a lack of hotel rooms.

Leeper with Cincinnati Center City Development doesn't think public funding will be a major part of the project. "We have seen the market. Our advisors believe that this is a strong market and that we have the tools necessary to limit public participation."

Hamilton County Commission President Denise Driehaus says if any public money is needed, it would likely come from the hotel-motel tax. "These are investments we make in order to advance things like a convention center hotel, or the expansion of a convention center; things that drive that industry and drive visits to the city of Cincinnati and to Hamilton County."

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says he'd be willing to look at tax increment financing for the project.

The mayor has been critical of the current headquarter hotel, and has advised people not to stay there, so as not to develop a negative image of the region. In a statement, the owners of the Millennium say “We have been proud, good corporate citizens of the Cincinnati community for more than 20 years, where we have provided safe and clean rooms at affordable prices."

In the statement, Senior Vice President Erik Anderouard says "We welcome the opportunity to engage in meaningful and productive discussions on the ways our hotel can continue to be supportive of the long-term vision and vitality of Cincinnati.”

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.