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The Oklahoman wants us to chip in $85.4 million for a convention center hotel…

2:26 PM EDT on September 28, 2016

conventionhotel

Somebody needs to check on Steve Lackmeyer. I'm starting to get worried.

Only a few days after Steve's editors at The Oklahoman forced him (probably) at gunpoint to write a promotional article about the MAPS 3 Convention Center, it looks like the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce has apparently kidnaped Steve's family and demanded he write a PR piece about the new convention center hotel they want taxpayers to help pay for...

The Omni sign soon could glow atop a sleek glass 19-story tower hovering over the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the new convention center and park.

The hotel, however, comes with a cost.

Oklahoma City Council members will be asked Tuesday to pursue a deal with Omni to build the 600-room headquarters hotel to tie into the city's future $288 million convention center.

The proposal calls for $85.4 million in public assistance, with Omni financing the remaining $150.1 million of the $235.5 million hotel. In addition to the Omni deal, the city council also will see details of a proposal submitted by Marcus Hotels and Resorts and Mortenson, two parties that initially competed separately for the project but joined together earlier this year...

Wow, that's brutal. Forcing Steve to write promotional propaganda about controversial development projects that will kill old buildings is wrong. He communicates with old buildings the same way that Ents talk to trees. He will just walk amongst the buildings in Downtown, reading their thoughts, feelings and dreams, and whistling their favorite songs from days of old. I believe that's why people around town call him "Brickbeard."

Anyway, I prefer to learn about new and exciting things that won't be irrelevant in 20 years, so I'm not an expert on convention centers. I voted for MAPS 3 and don't have a problem building it, but why do with have to pitch in for the hotel? "Hey, you get to be right by the convention center!" sounds like a pretty good deal for a hotel owner. Also, where's this $84.4 million going to come from?

Steve explains:

A report to be delivered to the city council lists an array of options for funding the subsidy that include property, hotel and sales tax increment financing, a ground lease and revenues from the city's mortgage and lease with Marcus Hotels for the Skirvin Hilton.

Those sources, along with potential funding from the city's economic development bonds are estimated to total at least $72.9 million.

“The majority of the subsidy will come from taxes generated by the hotel itself,” O'Connor said. “That will be the first thing we will look at.”

If authorization is given to begin negotiations with Omni, O'Connor's priority will be to lower the requested subsidy.

A report to be delivered to the city council lists an array of options for funding the subsidy that include property, hotel and sales tax increment financing, a ground lease and revenues from the city's mortgage and lease with Marcus Hotels for the Skirvin Hilton.

Those sources, along with potential funding from the city's economic development bonds are estimated to total at least $72.9 million.

“The majority of the subsidy will come from taxes generated by the hotel itself,” O'Connor said. “That will be the first thing we will look at.”

So, the taxes the hotel generates will go directly back to the hotel, as opposed to funding police, fireman, schools, libraries, etc. That's a pretty cool deal, especially if you own the hotel!

Yesterday, the Oklahoma City Council discussed the proposal and agreed to "authorize convention center hotel negotiations." I don't know if Steve escaped captivity or is currently being held in a small neon cage in The Underground, but for some reason, the paper took William Crum off the Hefner Goats beat and sent him to cover the news. He produced a batch of propaganda that will get the attention of PR firms everywhere...

The Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday to authorize negotiations with Omni Hotels and Resorts to develop a 600-room luxury hotel adjacent to the MAPS 3 convention center.

Success in building the $235.5 million headquarters hotel to support the new convention center hinges on assembly of a public financing package that could total $85.4 million.

Public financing would be combined with $150 million brought to the project by Omni...

Advocates depicted the long-discussed hotel as an opportunity to further promote economic development and make the most of the convention center, promised to voters who passed MAPS 3.

Mayor Mick Cornett said the chance to invest in a new hotel should be seen as an opportunity the city "wouldn't have had if MAPS 3 hadn't passed."

"What happens if we don't?" asked Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer. "There is a big risk to a number of investments that we've made if we don't take this step forward."

Ward 4 Councilman Pete White suggested the need to assemble a financing package also presented an opportunity — to ask voters what they think of how MAPS 3 is progressing.

I think it would be cool to have another tall building be part of our skyline, but once again, $85-million for a hotel? That just doesn't seem right, especially when our city has so many other issues at the moment. Let's see what Ed Shadid and James Greiner, the two councilmen who voted against the proposal, thought about it.

Ward 4 Councilman Pete White suggested the need to assemble a financing package also presented an opportunity — to ask voters what they think of how MAPS 3 is progressing.

MAPS 3 voters gave city leaders the go-ahead in 2009 to raise an estimated $777 million for projects ranging from the convention center to sidewalks.

Projects largely were designed to foster economic growth and promote healthy, vibrant neighborhoods.

With the hotel and a separate, $37 million proposal for a parking garage and surface lot, the convention center complex is headed toward a total investment of $559.4 million.

Proceeds from the 1-cent MAPS 3 sales tax, public borrowing and subsidies captured in part from increased property values and business activity could comprise $400 million or more of the total.

Finance officials said money-raising options included increases in hotel-motel and rental-car taxes, which could only be approved by voters.

"This gives us an opportunity to go back to the people and ask them what they think," White said.

Oh, The Oklahoman article didn't quote Ed Shadid, or highlight any of his critical remarks about the convention center and the proposed hotel. I guess I'll have to embed a video to share Ed's thoughts on the matter.

Wow. Strong words. You would think critical, applause-generating comments by a city councilman about the convention center hotel would make a local newspaper article about the convention center hotel, but then again, The Oklahoman more closely resembles the OKC Chamber's "The Point" newsletter than a real newspaper, so I guess it's fine.

Anyway, you can read the rest of William Crum's advertorial here. If you have thoughts about whether or not the city should spend $85-million to build a new hotel downtown, leave a comment or contact your councilman. If you know Steve Lackmeyer's whereabouts, get in touch with Amnesty International.

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