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Oregon Convention Center Hotel Concept Rises from the Ashes of the Recession

Portland received another sign that the hospitality industry may be on its way to a full recovery late last month. On April 26th, Metro, Portland’s regional planning entity, voted to issue a request for proposal on a large hotel project that was brought to a halt in 2008 due to the economic downturn.

The vote brings back to life a plan to develop a large headquarters hotel project that will serve as the designated hotel space for the Oregon Convention Center, and provide an additional 500 rooms for tourists visiting the Rose City. Local revenue generated by attracting large conventions is big business for the hospitality industry and the region. Metro estimates that national events at the Oregon Convention Center, such as the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Convention that took place in April and the 2012 World Brewing Congress scheduled for August of this year, result in millions of additional dollars flooding area businesses over just one weekend.

The resurrected interest in this project shows that Portland’s hospitality industry will play an integral part of the economic recovery for the region. While Metro retains discretion to allow some amount of public financing, its review of proposals will give high marks to those who minimize the use of public financing. Some of the public financing tools Metro is considering include:

(a) Site-specific transient lodging taxes “rebated” to the project for a period of years.

(b) Direct financing in the form of public, secondary loans: PDC has budgeted funding in an amount up to $4 million. Metro is willing to consider additional financial support in a similar but yet-to-be determined amount.

(c) Other readily available tools such as new market tax credits, EB-5 program investment, etc.

Go through the steps to get a free copy of the RFP here. The proposal deadline is 5:00 pm on July 11, 2012.

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