|By Rosalie Rayburn, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Apr. 14, 2005 - ALBUQUERQUE -- A city of Albuquerque task force has hired an international consulting firm to study potential ways to finance the building of a full-service hotel with as many as 600 rooms near the Convention Center.
The task force chaired by the city's Economic Development Department director Fred Mondragon recently signed a contract worth up to $18,000 with HVS International, a hospitality consulting firm with offices in the United States, Europe and South America.
The task force was established by City Councilor Eric Griego who believes Albuquerque needs a full-service hotel with at least 600 rooms adjacent to the convention center to help attract conventions to the city.
Dale Lockett, president and CEO of the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, has said convention planners prefer to book all their guests in one hotel within walking distance of a convention center. But the high cost of building in Downtown makes developers leery of investing.
The task force hopes HVS will help solve that problem.
"HVS will assess the Albuquerque market and look at financial structures that may be appropriate for this type of development," said Deirdre Firth, the city's senior economic developer. Some type of public-private partnership would probably be necessary to attract investors because of the high costs of building this type of hotel, said task force member Charlie Gray, who is president of the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association. He said other cities, such as Denver, have given land or issued city-backed bonds to attract investors to build this type of hotel.
Full-service hotels have restaurants, bars, room service and meeting space. Gray estimates it would cost about $120 million to build a 600-room hotel of this type in Downtown Albuquerque.
The Duke City currently has four full-service hotels with a total of about 700 rooms close to the Convention Center: the Hyatt Regency, Doubletree, La Posada and Hotel Blue. The 261-room Embassy Suites, which opened April 5, is about a mile from the center.
The city approved a $41 million property tax break over seven years to induce hotel developer John Q. Hammons to build the Embassy Suites.
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