|By Amy Burroughs, The Paducah Sun,
Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 11, 2007 - The city is preparing to solicit proposals from developers to build a 300-room hotel and 100,000-square-foot convention center downtown.
Downtown Development Director Steve Doolittle said the city has identified about a dozen potential hoteliers and will advertise nationally. Some developers contacted the city after publicity about the Executive Inn appeared in the hotel trade press earlier this year, he said.
"We believe, based on our preliminary response, we are going to get quite a bit of strong interest in getting a hotel developer in downtown Paducah," Planning Director Tom Barnett said.
Doolittle said the city will start advertising its request for qualifications and request for proposals as soon as the city has finalized potential hotel sites.
He did not want to identify locations being considered.
Once advertising begins, developers will have 60 days to submit proposals.
Doolittle and Barnett said they hope developers will propose a custom hotel for Paducah rather than a generic design borrowed from other cities.
"The unique character of downtown is a selling feature in this project," Barnett said.
"We would like if ... there is a developer offering us a more unique and interesting design, with an architect who can make sure the structure relates specifically to Paducah."
Doolittle said planning staff will rely on the city's consultants, JJR of Madison, Wis., to help develop criteria to evaluate proposals.
"We're going to try to have some objective process for evaluating that, but ... there's a lot of subjectivity," Doolittle said.
Officials want a hotelier who will make a long-term commitment to the project and therefore be motivated to reinvest in it, Barnett said. He said officials also will evaluate developers' ability to work well with local agencies in hosting events at the convention center.
Concerns about both issues have been raised with Executive Inn owner Bhupinder Singh.
Earlier this year, officials expressed serious concerns about Singh's delay in signing the 2008 Quilt Show contract and in implementing promised renovations at his hotel.
Barnett said the city also wants to ensure a developer has "the fiscal capability to pull off a project of this size."
Developers will be asked to submit conceptual designs showing how various parts of the project will work together. In addition to a hotel and convention center, Barnett said a parking garage likely would be part of at least one of the potential sites.
"We want to see how the components relate to each other," he said. "For example, is the parking garage attached to the convention center? Is it across the street and connected with a walkway?"
Doolittle said the city's request was designed to introduce Paducah to developers who are not familiar with the area, including Lower Town and the Artist Relocation Program, the American Quilter's Society, downtown revitalization projects, and the planned riverfront redevelopment.
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Copyright (c) 2007, The Paducah Sun, Ky.
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