Cleveland | Is new hotel a good investment for taxpayers?

CLEVELAND -- Amid a lot of talk about Cleveland's revival, chasing conventions and creating jobs, ground was broken for what will become the city's biggest hotel.

The 600-room, 28-story hotel will connect to the Convention Center and the Global Center for Health Innovation. It will play a key role in the city's bid for upcoming political conventions.

It will put 2,800 hardhats to work and employ almost 500 workers to run it.

The $260 million project is being funded by taxpayers. The county's using mainly leftover revenue from the Convention Center and issuing bonds.

READ MORE: Hilton breaks ground for Convention Center hotel

But some wonder if this is a good investment for taxpayers.

The track record of publicly-financed convention center hotels in other comparable cities is not encouraging.

Take the Hilton Hotel in Baltimore. It's lost tens of millions of dollars in the six years it's been open. One projection is it will need ten more years to make money.

Asked about concerns the project could be a financial drain, County Executive Ed FitzGerald, the driving force behind the project said, "This is the same kind of skepticism that said we would be over budget on the Convention Center and Medical Mart. We have shown the ability to deliver on these things."

"We don't make bad investments," Mayor Frank Jackson said. "We take some risks on some things, but it's calculated and gives the best return on those investments."

FitzGerald and Jackson seemed to be saying you need to use public money to prime the pump for more public investment.

"It is something where the public must be involved. That's what it takes to become a first-class convention city. It just comes with the territory," FitzGerald said.


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