If Marriott won’t build their own hotel in downtown Carmel, why should the taxpayer?
When a City takes on the burden of expense related to the construction of an amenity like a sports stadium or a hotel, it is reasonable to wonder… “Why not let the private sector decide?” There are some cities that do exactly that. They sit and wait for the private sector to decide what, when and how a development will occur. At first, that seems like a good idea, but the actual results are not so simple.
“Some communities who adopted this ‘hands off’ approach have come to regret that strategy because they are left with un-attractive developments…”
Some communities who adopted this “hands off” approach have come to regret that strategy because they are left with un-attractive developments built to “maximize profit” rather than “improve a community.” They are left with gridlock because instead of master-planning a community, they have played “catch-up” to the whims of private developers who are doing little more than earning as much profit as possible. In other words, a recipe for suburban sprawl. In Carmel, we decided many years ago to redevelop 80 acres of vacant land into our City Center, a redevelopment designed to attract new businesses and public activities that would boost our quality of life – thus making Carmel an attractive place live, work and raise a family. As part of that plan, it was determined that a very nice, high-quality hotel would be an important part of satisfying a demand for such amenities by our corporate community.
The truth is that many hotel groups do believe that a hotel in City Center would be financially successful. The problem is it would not be “successful enough” to satisfy their corporate shareholders. Many hotel groups see the Meridian Corridor as a necessary part of their plan because they tend to care more about traffic numbers and major highways than anything else. But we know our City Center is something special and could support such a hotel, especially with so many businesses moving into City Center, Midtown, the Proscenium, and other areas. Data shows that this hotel will work and will be financially successful. More importantly, we believe it is a vital component of our much bigger strategy to attract new corporate investments into our central core. Because of that, we feel it is a good investment for the future of the City. And it’s not that uncommon … many major cities have taken steps to supplement the development of high-class hotels in their downtown area. We believe such an investment will supplement all that we have done and already invested in City Center and adjacent developments that continue to attract the kind of private investments that keep our local economy thriving and our local property taxes low.
Authored by Ron Carter, Sue Finkam, Bruce Kimball, Kevin Rider and Jeff Worrell