Funding for Oregon Convention Center Hotel in Flux

By Parrish Walton, August 6, 2013

A 500-room Hyatt Regency is coming to Portland, but only after the final funding details have been hammered out by the city and the private developers. Portland Commissioner Steve Novick proposed limiting the amount of money the lodging tax would provide for the new development.

Novick wants to make sure taxes used to fund the hotel come only from revenue secured via convention business, limiting the amount of money the city would have to pay for the property. As it stands now, a $60 million gap needs to be dealt with before the development can begin.

The concern for some, however, is how to differentiate business derived from conventions as opposed to other hotel stays. Ken Rust was hired by the Metro regional government, which operates the convention center, to advise the group on the financials of the development. Rust told The Oregonian not only would it be difficult to separate the hotel spending, but also the numbers wouldn’t add up. “The financial size would get smaller, obviously, which would mean we’d have less to contribute to the project. There would be a bigger hole to fill.”

Travel Portland, the group in charge of marketing the convention center, said the new hotel would help secure five to 10 additional events each year with an average attendance of 2,000.

Walkable Columbus, Ohio, fresh off a convention center renovation, aims to be top of mind for planners coordinating events.

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