by Sam Hieb
From —- of all places —- Rhino Rumors:
The downtown hotel proposal is going through changes so fast that it is hard to keep up. It appears the latest proposal is to build the hotel wrapped around the old Thalhiemers building, now the Elm Street Center, on South Elm Street, home to Churchills on Elm, the Empire Room, etc.
The City Council’s part would be to approve the project for stimulus bond money, but the city would not be asked to put any money into the project or have any liability for the bonds. The city would be encouraged to build a parking deck near the hotel, but the lack of a city parking deck would reportedly not be a deal breaker. It’s come a long way from Lee Street and now involves a crew of experienced and successful Greensboro businessmen and women, along with the out-of-town developers.
Not exactly the healthy dose of skepticism John Hammer usually offers up. That comes from the Biz Journal’s Justin Catanoso, who asks the big question—- “can a $30 million, 200-room, high-priced hotel succeed well enough for long enough to pay back those bonds?”
And if not, who would pay back those bonds? So much for the argument that no public money is at risk.
Update Ed Cone responds by asking how often the Rhino really challenges the real estate industry.
Maybe not often, but they challenge government, and this is a government-driven project, is it not? It all got started with the City of Greensboro’s desire to rehab Lee and S. Elm, it’s dependent on a government subsidy and, while Skip Alston and Bridget Chisholm may be developers, they’re politicians first.
All this over a hotel, for heaven’s sake. It really bothers me that our country’s come to this point.