An announcement on the fate of an estimated $300 million hotel viewed crucial to the future of the proposed Music City Center will come next month, according to Mayor Karl Dean.
“There will certainly be a hotel,” Dean said. “The issue will be size, how it’s financed. As I’ve said before, we’re not going to build anything we can’t afford. I’m not going to force the issue. … But, we’ll have an announcement about how we’re going forward with the hotel in early December.”
The Mayor’s Office is expected to hand the Metro Council a finance plan for the $585 million convention center in a matter of weeks. It’s still unclear whether the companion hotel, envisioned as a 750- to 1,000-room structure positioned directly south of the Country Music Hall of Fame, would be a part of that package or unveiled later in a separate plan.
Dean’s hint of a looming hotel deal came after a representative of HVS Consulting, an independent firm that specializes in convention centers, released an ongoing study to the Metro Council and Convention Center Authority on consecutive days, a report consultants say proves the feasibility of the project.
The study, which is still incomplete, shows the new convention center would create a total of 370,000 new hotel room nights per year. While the number of events wouldn’t necessarily increase, the average size of a banquet or conference would double from 1,500 attendees to 3,000.
“The whole study essentially validates what we’ve been saying,” Dean said. “There is a demand for this project.”
A combination of six different taxes that target tourists would generate $59 million by 2023, said Thomas Hazinski, managing director of HVS.
Polled event planners, he said, say Nashville is the most attractive place to hold a convention among cities with similar convention markets such as New Orleans, San Antonio and St. Louis. Those same planners say they desire a downtown location.
“Our city is just a special place,” Dean said. “That’s what’s reflected in that chart when we’re above other cities. People want to come to Nashville.”
Tower Investments, the largest property owner of land in the proposed convention center’s footprint, filed suit earlier this month against Metro Development and Housing Agency for allegedly failing to show property appraisals during ongoing eminent domain proceedings. The development group has since released plans and renderings for a new high-rise for the corner of Fifth Avenue and Demonbruen Street.
“It’s pretty clear (Tower Investments) bought the property after everybody knew this was where the convention center was going,” Dean said. “But that’s for the court to decide.”