|By Dan Voorhis, The Wichita Eagle,
Kan.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 3, 2008 --The buyer of the Broadview Hotel is asking for millions of dollars in financing and tax breaks from the city of Wichita.
Partner Hospitality of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is proposing a $25 million deal to renovate the hotel and reflag it as a Wyndham or Marriott Renaissance hotel.
Without the city's help, Partner Hospitality officials say they won't buy the hotel.
The request will be considered at today's City Council meeting.
The hotel needs to be completely updated, from basic systems to new furniture in the rooms, said Jacob Reckess, managing partner of Partner Hospitality.
"We're talking about not a cosmetic renovation, not new beds and a new coat of paint, but a complete overhaul of the guest experience to make it top tier," he said.
City tourism officials want Partner to bring in a prestigious hotel brand to complement the Hyatt Regency Wichita, and that requires more money for renovations, he said.
City staff was so torn about the proposal that it did not offer a recommendation to the council.
The hotel is in bankruptcy and requires considerable investment, said Alan Bell, the city's economic development director. Reviving it is important to Wichita's convention business.
But if the deal doesn't go through, the Broadview might be shuttered, Bell said. It could conceivably even be torn down for riverfront land.
"It's an icon," Bell said. "Losing it would be a disaster."
Yet, he said, Partner Management's proposal holds considerable risk for city taxpayers -- more than other downtown deals.
"It's a pretty longshot," Bell said. "You just can't get around that."
The most controversial piece of the deal is the $4.5 million in general obligation bonds. These are city-issued bonds that will be repaid by revenue from the hotel.
However, if the hotel were to go bankrupt, city taxpayers would likely be on the hook for some or all of that amount.
The $25 million proposal also includes:
About $15 million in bank-issued bonds, including $4.5 million that have first claim if a bankruptcy occurs.
At least $5 million in cash that Partner Hospitality is putting up. This could go higher, depending on final costs.
A 10-year property tax abatement.
An agreement for the city to sell the hotel parking garage to Partner Hospitality for $800,000, plus $650,000 in back taxes.
$120,000 in loans from the facade program.
Council member Sharon Fearey, whose district includes much of downtown, said she thinks the city has adequate protection and that the need is great.
"One of the key issues is that we need to keep the number of hotel rooms in downtown for convention and visitor purposes," she said.
But council member Jim Skelton, whose district covers southeast Wichita, said he will oppose the plan as too risky.
Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577.
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