Omni Hotel deal breezes through council committees

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 12:04am

Mayor Karl Dean’s public-private financing plan to fund a new $287 million convention center headquarters hotel advanced Monday night, breezing through two Metro Council committees after little discussion.

The intergovernmental agreement between Metro and Omni Hotels, which cleared the council’s Budget and Finance Committee and the Convention, Tourism and Public Entertainment Facilities Committee by unanimous votes, is now set to go before the entire council Tuesday for final approval.

Given Omni’s willingness to invest private capital on the front-end of the project, council members have had generally positives things to say about the plan. Barring any unexpected last hurdles, the resolution appears on course to enjoy a sizeable majority of council votes.

“I think it’s pretty clear that we need a hotel to maximize the convention center, and going forward it’s a positive thing for this community,” Budget and Finance Committee chair Megan Barry said. “It’s no surprise that people are voting ‘yes.’ It makes our ability to attract and retain business here for future conventions a lot easier.”

Council members took advantage of a special information session last week to ask any last-minute questions about the Metro-Omni agreement. Some asked about local and minority participation in constructing the new hotel, while some questioned the wisdom of building a convention center headquarters hotel that may not be physically connected to the center.

The lone question Monday night came from Councilwoman Emily Evans, who asked whether the proposed 800-room Omni Hotel is sufficient in size to meet convention projections forecasted by HVS Consulting, an outside consulting firm that supplied the city with a feasibility study prior to the council’s approval of the $585 million Music City Center in January. The feasibility study looked at the convention center’s viability with a 750-room hotel, but a 1,000-room hotel had been discussed.

“I would say a 1,000-room [hotel] was where we were shooting for,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, but added that the 800-room hotel would be sufficient.

Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said the city feels comfortable that an 800-room hotel would meet the needs of the new center.

The new 260-foot tall Omni hotel, which would sit on Fifth Avenue across the street from Music City Center, is expected to open by June 2013, a few months after the opening of the convention center. The hotel could be physically connected with the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum’s planned expansion, though parties still haven’t reached an agreement for that to happen.

Under the financing plan to be considered by the council, Metro would pay Omni $25 million in tax increment financing in 2011, and another $103 million over 20 years from revenue generated by the hotel through tourist-targeted taxes. Omni would cover the rest of the costs.


7 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 10/19/10 at 4:09

Since only 7 members of the Council attended the large infromational
presentation that was given on this proposal it comes as no surprise
it was passed. It would have passed without a presentational meeting
at all, mainly because the tracks have long been greased to do so!
If the Lord Mayor says go, then the council goes.

By: TITAN1 on 10/19/10 at 5:14


By: shinestx on 10/19/10 at 8:18

Why didn't the Council make their approval contingent on a connection to the convention center, or the Hall of Fame, or both?

By: producer2 on 10/19/10 at 10:02

The connection to the Convention Center is only an issue if you make it one. Most facilities do not have this. The connection to the Hall of Fame will get done.

By: yucchhii on 10/19/10 at 1:31

Why have any presentation anyway? If the convention center was approved BEFORE the vote was put to the citizens of Nashville, it was a waist of taxpayers time and MONEY! Mayor DINK (that's what hie IS...a DINK) That's also his new name "DINK!" So, obviously this plan goes through with approval and ABSOLUTELY NO CONCERN ABOUT THE FUTURE OF "HOMELESSNESS" IN NASHVILLE!!! Soon, after all this time of sweeping it all UNDER THE CARPET, the mounds that have been popping up everywhere from UNDER the carpet will start to TRIP PEOPLE. When that happens, what are you going to do, blame it on the "HOMELESS?" I can hear it now..."There's just too many homeless bums around, I can't do anything without them being around somewhere!" Well, guess what, you had the chance to help and get the "HOMELESS" off the streets and taken care off...BUT, you chose to "IGNORE" it instead!! So, I have to say that when you all start to BITCH about the "HOMELESS" being in your way. There's ONE thing I'd like to make "ABSOLUTELY CLEAR"..."WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT, GET LOST!!!" HOW'S THAT FOR APPLES? And to Mayor DINK, there's an old song by FLEETWOOD MAC..."Oh well". The line in that song is "Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give you the answer that you want me to!"

By: TITAN1 on 10/19/10 at 1:41

It would be nice if yucchhii would have read previous responses to her homeless rant, then she or he would see the homeless get a lot of help. The big expansion of Room at the Inn comes to mind. Again, a lot of them WANT to live on the street.

By: shinestx on 10/19/10 at 3:51

I never read Yucchhii... (yep, skip right over that nonsense)!

Producer, there are many in city government who ARE making a big deal out of the walkway... and where is the agreement that has already sealed the deal for the Hall of Fame expansion? Little advice for you: Don't be a mindless cheerleader for this project without asking questions. You sound quite willing to take anything that gets shoveled your way just because you feel you can't get it any other way.. or to put it more bluntly, you are settling for the first guy who notices you because you fear you can't get another date.