Someone please explain how DC officials are supposed to be experts, or even average, at the convention and hotel business. Likewise for the baseball and stadium business.
Nearly four years ago, city officials opened the $850 million Washington Convention Center with a string of superlatives. The largest publicly financed project ever built in the city, they said, would attract more than a million visitors a year, fill hotels and set off an economic boom.
Instead, convention attendance is dropping, the surrounding neighborhood is yet to be transformed by the promised new development, and conventioneers are filling fewer hotel rooms than expected.
The number of hotel rooms booked is especially significant because it is the most accurate measure of performance, and last year hotel convention bookings missed projections by 13 percent. Bookings are likely to fall short of projections by 24 percent this year and 29 percent next year.
The city's solution is to increase its investment, pressing ahead with plans to build a $550 million hotel next to the convention center, financed in part with a $135 million tax subsidy from the city, which convention center officials expect to be repaid with tax revenue generated by the project. The rest will be privately financed.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Keeping the Soviet dream alive in DC
Hard to believe the DC Convention Center is losing money: