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Big hotel brings debate

by: L.E. BASKOW, Readers have strong opinions about a proposed convention headquarters hotel that may be built across from the Oregon Convention Center, on a site marked at bottom right.

The March 6 Backstory article 'Who will pay for HQ hotel?' discussed a proposal by Metro to build a publicly owned convention headquarters hotel across from the Oregon Convention Center to help attract new conventions to Portland. Supporters say it could bring more than $100 million annually to the regional economy. Others, however, favor a smaller, privately owned hotel that would not leave taxpayers holding the bag if it failed. The story spurred much debate on our Web sites, www.localnewsdaily.com and www.portlandtribune.com, as well as some letters to the editor. Here is a sampling of comments:

Center needs support facilities nearby, too

I'm part of an organization that is bidding on a national conference for Portland. Generally, our conferences bring in about 1,200 to 1,500 people, but each year the conference gets larger.

There is only one hotel in Portland that comes close to meeting the minimum space and room requirements for our conference. The result? We may lose our bid.

Similarly, Seattle has only one hotel large enough and within the price range we can offer. Portland beat Seattle with our bid last year, but Pittsburgh beat Portland. So now we are trying for the 2011 conference.

We would not be able to use the Oregon Convention Center for our conference unless there were adequate rooms close by. Buses and MAX lines to transport people from downtown just don't work for conferences that start early and end late. People like to take naps in their rooms but not miss a lot of the program. Our conferences go on all day and night.

It also is essential to think about providing affordable rooms that the average conferencegoer can afford. I have no doubt that such a hotel would be full in the summer. Can we sell Portland as a winter wonderland?

Ruth Parvin

Southeast Portland

Via the Web

Taxpayers' patience is wearing thinner

Hey, why don't we get the world-class wits who planned the Portland Aerial Tram to build the HQ hotel? Of course, the taxpayers would take it in the, um, behind again, but gee, we'd be competing!

Aaarghhh. Tired. Just … tired.

Susan Viator

Fairview

Via the Web

'Buy local' mantra may hold an answer

I think the argument needs to shift to what form a HQ hotel would take. Building a massive HQ hotel seems contrary to many of Portland's unique local qualities. Many of these HQ hotels isolate conferencegoers and monopolize food and entertainment options.

Why not divide up the property into smaller hotels run by local businesspeople, achieving the same quantity of rooms without the bulk! Think of the 'Buy local' campaign for hotels.

This would do more for the urban fabric of the area and begin to build up the east side as a destination.

Michael Shaver

Southeast Portland

Via the Web

Public-private mix would be win for all

Regarding the HQ hotel, how about the city lease the land to a private developer for 100 years? The city could front for preliminary site cleanup and infrastructure construction.

A private developer will build a hotel with street-level retail with space for local businesses, and maybe squeeze in condos or apartments somewhere. Maybe acquire a few more blocks of underutilized buildings?

And as a sign of good will to Portlanders, if they build a mixed-use building with condos and/or apartments, it should include moderately priced (tax credit) units that will be attractive for a variety of people, not just for the wealthy such as in the Pearl and South Waterfront. This will increase the diversity of people in the area and create more housing choices for the masses (middle class).

The developer/owner would profit from the sale of condos or rent from apartments and revenues from hotel/retail businesses. The city would get paid from lease payments plus a huge tax base.

Isn't this a win-win for all?

Waiman Eng

Northwest Portland

Via the Web

Portland shows its bush-league status

Your current dialogue serves to show that a convention center hotel is the myth that will not die.

The question has become generational: All one has to do is read the timetable you published. Why, we have troops fighting and dying in Iraq who weren't even born when this project first surfaced.

Time to fess up. Public planning has brought us PGE Park, the Tram to Heaven's Gate, a transit mall that is quickly showing it isn't needed by its absence-in-repair, a withered Rose Garden and a looming Burnside-Couch 'couplet' that is simply busywork for City Hall.

One would think that an already-once-expanded convention center would have had a hotel all along to add viability and bring in more revenue. But, oh no. Private enterprise doesn't want it, and it funds the campaign coffers for the politicos. In the process, Portland remains the original amateur hour.

Edgar T. Numrich

Lake Oswego

Via e-mail

Come on, Portland, let's get on with it

Hesitation will cost Portland the necessary revenue from organized conventions. Other hoteliers in the city need to get on board to support a convention center hotel that meets the requirements of major gatherings.

It is the interest of the city that matters here, not the private profit that some fear they'll lose if a large hotel is built. Think bold - and get on with it.

Ray Woods

Southwest Portland

Via the Web