One developer responded to an Oct. 24 deadline to bid on the build of a convention center hotel next to Salt Palace in Salt Lake County, Utah.
Omni Hotels, a Dallas-based luxury hotel chain, submitted a lone bid for a hotel with convention center space. The brand has constructed similar convention center hotels in Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; and Nashville, Tenn.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, who lobbied for the build to bring more conventions to the area, remains optimistic. In the past several years, Salt Lake City likely lost about 30 conventions due to the shortage in accommodations, according to the mayor.
“The players, all of the players of the marketplace looked very closely at our deal,” said Mayor McAdams. “They ultimately concluded they couldn’t make it pencil. Omni thinks they can make it pencil, so we’re encouraged.”
Both Outdoor Retailer, the world’s largest trade show for outdoor gear, and Salt Lake Comic Con are in support of the mayor’s proposed project. Organizers for Outdoor Retailer had warned city officials that the show would consider other venues if more hotel rooms were not added in the immediate future.
Requirements for the bid included finding and purchasing downtown real estate within 1,000 feet of the Salt Palace. Expected to cost as much as $300 million, the project would open in 2018 or later, and add up to 1,000 hotel rooms.
Although Utah officials offered $75 million in possible tax credits to attract potential builders, the Utah Taxpayers Association advised reconsideration of the project after only one bidder stepped up to the plate.
“We think they need to go back, reevaluate, open up the process and take a bid again,” said Billy Hesterman, the organization’s vice-president. “See if we can get more interest to protect the taxpayer. We need more than just one bid to make sure this is the right thing for the county to do.”
A committee is set to review the bid from Omni Hotels. Should the bid fail to meet the requirements, McAdams stated that the county may need to restart the bidding process with a renewed proposal.