Port City leaders split on convention hotel direction

Reported by Colin Hackman - bio|email
Posted by Peter Smelser - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - City leaders may change their demands for building a full-service hotel next to the $60 million Downtown Convention Center.

In a Monday morning meeting, city council members tried to put a plan get past the biggest construction hurdle, what type of hotel to build next to Wilmington's new meeting hall.

While progress continues at the Wilmington Convention Center, the property next door sits empty.

"At some point this region deserves a first class somewhat high rent hotel," said Laura Padgett, Wilmington City Council.

That's the central issue city leaders are facing, since a proposed Hotel Indigo failed to meet multiple deadlines for funding. Wait for a "full service" hotel to buy the property or sell it to a "select service" hotel like a Hampton Inn.

The longer the city waits, the harder it is for the convention and visitors bureau to book customers.

"There are a number of convention centers that are successful with select service products adjacent to them," said Bob McClintock, senior vice president of SMG. "It really depends on the market they are going after and what the meeting planner and attendees want."

Councilwoman Padgett believes a full service hotel will attract the types of clientele the city needs. However, councilman Ronald Sparks believes a select service hotel will fit the bill.

"I'm not opposed to select service that gets the core of what we do here," said Sparks.

The City Council will meet again on October 19, to make a decision on which direction they go.

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