I am all for a right-sized-facility in JC but I have other reservations about both proposals. In reviewing the document for the Farmer's Group I noticed that the main facility for meetings and events was smaller than the existing ballroom at the Capitol Plaza. The total square footage appeared to be 20,000 but it was a combination of a ballroom plus other breakout rooms. Ehrhardt didn't show any kind of proposed floor diagram for their facility but i fear the same thing. Right now the Capitol Plaza has right at 22,000 s/f of function space with the largest room being about 12,000s/f. If these facilities aren't even going to exceed what's in the market it will do nothing to bring in new business and just move around what's already here. You will need at least 30,000s/f of free-spanned space as one room divisible by walls to be able to make the positive impact to the community desired. Anything less will be a waste of time and money.
I agree with John. The convention center needs to be situated where shuttle service for the most part would not be necessary for the conference attendees. The prison site is nice but unless someone is going to build a 500 room hotel to support it, it's a waste of time, money and effort. With the West McCarty site you already have 498 hotel rooms in place. With the addition of another 200 guest rooms it would give plenty of dspace to house 1,000+ people. No shuttle service would be necessary for the use of the facility. And our main attraction and shopping are all within walking distance to this locaton. Both the MSP site and the Capital Mall would require shuttle service. And if you've priced shuttle service receintly it isn't cheap. To rent a school bus used to run $300 for a 3 hour minimum plus $100 per hour for each additional hours use. And that price was from several years ago.
It's obvious that some have never worked in a restaurant or for tips. If you think by eliminating tips and paying servers minimum wage it will take care of the situation you are missing the boat. You only have good servers in restaurants because of tipping and the potential money these folks can make. If you figure that a good server can handle 4 to 5 tables per hour then even with this example that server would average at least $24.00 per hour. Plus the $3.63 per hour. So not a bad wage. The word tip is actually an acronym for "To Insure Proper Service". It's a part of our culture and it won't go away. It's the proper thing to do. These people work hard at trying to please a large number of demanding people in a short period of time. To raise the prices high enough to cover a $27.00 per hour worker, that would keep a lot of us from ever eating out again. And by not taking care of your hair dresser may result in a less than acceptable cut or color. I'm not going to take a chance.
Just a point of clarification; the city didn't drop the ball. The anti-casino foces got it voted down at 2 different elections. The last one to the point that the idea of a casino couldn't even be considered. A lot of short sighted people in our community!!! Tax revenues, an attraction and jobs!! Would have been a nice trifecta!!! And the really sad thing is that Callaway County could approve and park one right across from the Capitol and there wouldn't be a thing we could do about it. No control and definitely no tax benefits!!!
I must ask how you came to this conclusion? I've been in the hotel business in this community for 16 years. All in sales. I have seen the transformation of the market place from when the Capitol Plaza opened until now. In the early years of the CPH they hosted ton's of state wide conferences for DESE alone. Those conferences now go to the lake or somewhere else due to the size and complexity. In the beginning none of these conferences had trade shows linked to them. But since then all of these organizations realized that there was a chance for the organization to maximize revenues with their addition. The Plaza could handle up to 400 for meetings and meals. You then add in a trade show and there wasn't enough space. Right now DESE alone sends about a million dollars a year to the lake due to the size requirements. I know there are other state agencies that have had to do the same thing due to space requirements. By keeping these conferences here not only do we make money but the state won't have to pay to house and transport their staff that coordinate these events. So it would actually be a win-win!!!
I've been reading a lot of the posts and there are a lot of good points. But I want to take a bit of a different approach. And that is to incease Jefferson City's ability to improve the infrastructure there must be increased revenues. So how do we do that? In this economy the manufacturing base has left the U.S. never to return until the 3rd world countries increase their level of compensation to match what the U.S. pays it's workers. We do not sit on an interstate highway and don't have a viable airport. So the manufacturing base isn't where there is growth potentail. Where does it lie? A river boat would have been an excellant attraction along with a job and tax revenue generator. But our ultra conservative community spoke and said no to that type of job development. It's a shame. It would have made the convention center idea a more viable possibility. But now what do we do? At least with a convention center it will produce jobs for our construction industry while being built. It will then produce more service sector jobs and the ripple effect will be felt by the food suppliers, beer distributors, restaurant equipment suppliers and more. The employment ripple effect would impact even more businesses. And I can't help but feel that the state would (or even should) hold more of its sponsored events in JC just because of the difference in state per diem. In JC the per diem is $79.00 verses St. Louis at $104.00 and KC at $99.00. For a 300 room convention going to St. Louis for 2 nights the savings of holding that event in JC would be around $15,000.00 in our state tax revenues. And those 600 room nights would generate spin-off revenues in all kinds of different ways. So for the short term and long term success of JC I still feel the conference center, placed in the core of the city would help build the revenues we need to fix the sidewalks, the streets and more.
Where are all of the comments there were here 20 minutes ago? Is the newspaper censoring opinions they don't like?
Now let's talk tax rates. With this increase the tax rate for hotel rooms in JC will be 14.725%. In competing with Columbia their tax rate is 11.35%, the Lake 10.225% to 12.7255%, St. Louis 14.866% to 15.741% and KC is 15.35%. Wow! I guess the people coming to JC will find everything here to do as they do in the big cities since our tax rates are comparable - NOT!!! It's rediculus!!! This is the wrong plan at the wrong time. It's a field of dreams - build it and they will come - NOT!!!! I understand that the owners of the Capitol Plaza were approached. From looking at their web site they manage over 5.4 million square feet of exhibition space. Don't you think if it had been a good plan they would have jumped at the chance.
What surprises me is that all of the pro-ads don't mention the written agreements in place signed or not, that involve the Housing Authority, the City, Lincoln and the Erhart Group (Hotel Developer and potential convention center management company). In these agreements it notes the convention center will be a minumum of 34,000s/f. To me that indicates the overall size of the facility. If you take out about 10,000s/f for public space, storage, hallways and service corridors it leaves about 24,000s/f of event space. Now, the Capitol Plaza has 22,000s/f, the Truman has 24,000s/f so basically the new tax will help a like sized new hotel open in town. We compete with the Lake, Columbia and of course St. Louis and KC. At the Lake Tan-Tar-A has 93,000s/f of event space. The Lodge has over 60,000s/f and even Columbia Executive Center has 36,000s/f of meeting space. And of course KC & STL both have tons of space. So who are we supposed to take business from in JC? And there are only 2 hotels in town that support this initiative - Motel 6 and Candlewood. And the Candlewood is an Erhart Hotel. If all of the other htoels are against it, could there be a flaw in their plan?
o Proposed 34,000s/f facility.
o In this facility they will need about 10,000s/f of space for their kitchen (walk-ins – refrig & freezer, dish-room, prep and cook areas, dry goods storage, liquor storage, etc), storage space for the tables and chairs and miscellaneous equipment, employee bathroom facilities, guest bathroom facilities and just access corridors to get in and out of the main meeting space.
o That leaves 24,000s/f of space for the conference center, breakout rooms, pre-function space, offices and classroom space for Lincoln.
o Capitol Plaza Hotel has 22,000s/f of actual meeting space.
o Truman Hotel has 24,000s/f of actual meeting space.
o That means that it will be comparable in size to the 2 existing convention hotels already in JC.
o What good will that do Jefferson City? None. It will just move business around that is already coming to town.
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