Hotel, conference center plan draws mixed reaction | NevadaAppeal.com

Hotel, conference center plan draws mixed reaction

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

Local hotel and conference center representatives have mixed opinions about a proposed 125-room hotel and 5,000-square-foot conference center after City Center Project developers touted a feasibility study last week.

P3 Development hired PKF International, a hotel research firm with Colliers International, to conduct a feasibility report on the prospects of opening a hotel and conference center as part of the $87 million project that could include a library, digital media studios, offices, retail space and a parking garage.

Jeroen Gerrese, president of Sacramento-based P3, said the report came back favorably, adding three hotel brands not in the Carson City or Reno markets have expressed interest in the project. The study has not been made available for review by the Nevada Appeal, but is expected to be detailed to city officials and the citizens advisory committee this month.

Terrie McNutt, the director of sales at the 88-room Courtyard by Marriott, and Linda Barnett, the general manager of the 85-room Hampton Inn, said they were contacted by PKF International two months ago about the proposed hotel and events center. Both said Carson City’s current average occupancy rate of about 68 percent couldn’t sustain another 125 rooms. The capital already has 1,700 hotel rooms, according to the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“(PKF) asked did I think another hotel would thrive in Carson City and I said that it is my opinion that it would not,” McNutt said. “If our hotels were at 80 percent, then another hotel would be a great possibility.”

The biggest problem, according to Barnett, is local hotels need to attract more winter business.

“If (Carson Nugget President Steve Neighbors) wants to do something for this town, he needs to build an indoor soccer facility and donate it to the city, that would be the nicest thing the (Hop and) Mae Adams Trust could do,” Barnett said.

Jon Boulware, the general manager of the Gold Dust West, which includes 148 hotel rooms, said he opposed the idea.

“I would agree with (Barnett) and say no,” he said.

But Dwight Millard, owner of the 168-room Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, said he would support the proposed hotel and events center, but cautioned that developers should be leery of Carson City’s unsettled economy.

“For years I’ve contended that Carson City needed a conference center,” Millard said. “So the big conventions will go to Reno, Las Vegas, San Francisco, but we could handle conferences, ones that are interstate, not intrastate.”

He said the events center could draw more business to his hotel, too, something he said he had hoped would have come from the Ormsby House, which has been closed since 2000.

Millard added the downtown development should focus on retail and entertainment options to promote tourism in Carson City.

“The library should not be the main anchor,” he said.

Candy Duncan, the executive director of the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau, said she welcomed the idea of an events center coming to Carson City.

“I always thought that a first-class hotel associated with meeting or conference space would be a good move for Carson City because it’s something I think we need,” Duncan said.

Neighbors, who also is the sole trustee of the Hop and Mae Adams Trust, said the hotel’s feasibility rests on the construction of a 5,000-square-foot events center that could attract small conventions to Carson City that currently go to Reno or Las Vegas, adding the plan is to fill existing hotel rooms, too.

He said the Carson Nugget will own none of the development.

“The city is not signing on it, the Nugget is not signing on it,” Neighbors said. “This is P3 (Development), the hotel is feasible only if there’s a convention center built.”

Neighbors added, “I would say everybody is worried about how change is going to impact them and their pocket book. What we’re trying to do big picture. What makes sense big picture, we’re trying to go forward in a way that doesn’t steal business from anybody. We’re trying to create additional jobs and additional economic vitality in the Carson City area.”

Meanwhile, McNutt said business is starting to turn around at her hotel, but stressed that an upturn is expected to be gradual.

“We need a lot more to catch up with what we’ve already lost,” she said, adding, “we’re not full enough to have another hotel.”

As for the downtown project, McNutt added, “I don’t have enough information yet, that seems to be cliche… but I think it’s the truth. Everybody has a lot of questions they still haven’t had answered yet.”