I have this rather dog-eared business card still in my wallet. I will have carried it for almost a year now. At the time, December 18th 2012, I was a commissioner-elect who had just been introduced to Glen Malone, the Chief Operation Officer of Senate Hospitality. In the press conference, Mayor Paxton explained the hotel project wasn’t 100% complete. It would take four of five months to finish the paperwork, but it was on Bill’s list of things to finish before he left office later that month, and everyone was good with that. Before the press conference was over, I had added Glenn’s partner Dave Jones and the hotel developer David Puckett’s names to the aforementioned business card.
By January, you thought I had only visions of the greenway trail Tunnel dancing in my head. Not so. There was the 68-page Hotel Market and Feasibility Study written by Johnson Consulting Company. This document would be my new best friend as winter turned to spring, and to summer, and to fall. This is the book that answered all those questions about who, what, when, where, how much, well, you get the idea. I lost track of how many times I read and reread it. Scarily, I became conversant with the lingo of the hotel industry. I could talk about RevPAR, Induced Impacts, and the Competitive Hotel Set until I thought my head would blow off. But my time was dwarfed by the hours the team of Steve Doolittle and Jeff Pederson spent. These guys really put in the hours. I asked Jeff how much of a time suck the hotel project was, and “second most complicated project in my City Manager career” was the answer. Just so you know, moving the Nebraska State Fair to Grand Island was first on his list.
And, of course, I did do a bit of independent study on the project. Malcolm Bryant’s Owensboro Riverfront Hotel seems to be a similar project in Owensboro as far as the city, the investors, the state, and the bank participation, as is our hotel project in Paducah.
So last week we had the hotel announcement, and tonight we approved the development agreement at the commission meeting.
Since the hotel announcement, I have heard from more than a few of you guys. The comment has been something like, “ Well, since you don’t have the name of the hotel maybe it isn’t a done deal.” My answer is this: if you were going to use my Etcetera Coffeehouse name on your newly started coffee venture, I would first have a long list of “best practices” on how to run the coffee business. This “to do” list would be lengthy. Until you were in compliance, I would not let you use my name on your new venture. And you wouldn’t either if the roles were reversed. Well, I pretty sure that is the way any national franchise would do it too. I know that is standard for franchising in the automobile industry, and I have some experience there. So trust me on this one. Paducah will get its business class hotel on the riverfront.
We have spent most of a year on a significant project for Paducah, I’ve still got Glenn Malone’s dog-eared business card, and I don’t think anyone would say we have rushed into a decision. We’ve made a good one. I’m completely comfortable in my support of the downtown hotel.