Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

County commissioners to vote on final $10M needed for $200M convention center renovation

artist rendering of interior sunny balconies and entryway
Lifang;Moody Nolan;TVS
An artist's rendering of what the renovated Duke Energy Convention Center could look like.

A new financing plan aims to raise all $200 million needed to renovate the Duke Energy Convention Center. Hamilton County commissioners will vote on the agreement Thursday after Cincinnati City Council approved its part two weeks ago.

The renovation of the city-owned center is one piece of an overall plan for a Convention Center District, which will include an 800-room hotel, and a county-owned outdoor meeting area.

RELATED: New renderings unveiled for Duke Energy Convention Center revamp

"We are approaching this in a collective way with not only the city of Cincinnati, but by way of the properties, so that we're not doing one thing here that doesn't make any sense next to what's happening here and what's happening there," said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. "But rather, we're doing it in coordination with all of the entities that either own property or controlling properties on these various sites that make up the Convention Center District."

The financing plan up for a vote Thursday is just for renovating the convention center itself. It primarily involves restructuring how revenue from the Transient Occupancy Tax is spent; that's the tax paid by hotel visitors, which is distributed between the city and county.

The new agreement would pool all the revenue and dedicate a portion to new debt for the renovation; some would continue to be spent on existing debt for the Sharonville Convention Center (on the county side) and for the FC Cincinnati stadium (on the city side).

County Administrator Jeff Aluotto says the renovation is not just aesthetics.

"It's also a significant upgrade of the many systems that support the convention center," he told commissioners Tuesday. "Everything from the roof, the HVAC system, the electrical system, the technology, and importantly ... making sure that the space within the convention center can be used efficiently [and] that it is can be used for multiple events concurrently."

RELATED: Hamilton Co. commissioners approve additional hotel tax

The deal also includes direct cash support: $30 million from the city and $15 million from the county — of that, $10 million from the county still needs approval.

Construction on the $200 million renovation is expected to begin this summer. That cost includes turning a vacant lot (that formerly held the Millennium Hotel) into an outdoor event space. The county owns the site, but would negotiate leasing it to the city so it can be booked in conjunction with the convention center.

A new 800-room hotel is planned for a different site nearby and has a different financing structure.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.