|By Rivkela Brodsky, Albuquerque Journal,
N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
August 23, 2010 - --The Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking the business community to show its support for the proposed Downtown Event Center & Hotel Complex project.
The bureau sent e-mails last week to local businesses, those in the hospitality industry and the bureau's 950 partners, asking them to sign a "declaration of support" for the project, "which is designed to help resurrect Albuquerque's failing convention center industry," according to the e-mail from bureau president and CEO Dale Lockett.
"We plan to send a message of broad support for the need to return large conventions to our city, to attract quality entertainment (arts, sports, music, theater) for our citizens and to improve the overall vitality of downtown to help realize Mayor Berry's vision of a thriving Albuquerque," the e-mail reads.
"Yes, there is a small increase to the gross receipts tax required to finance the project," it continues. "But I hope that you will join me in determining that the small increase in tax will provide a huge economic return on investment for a wide variety of businesses. "
Lockett also mentioned the declaration at a monthly Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association meeting at the Albuquerque Grand Hotel on Thursday.
The declaration follows a Journal article that highlighted two city councilors' concerns about the lack of meeting and convention bookings for Albuquerque. Councilors and the visitors bureau pointed to a need for an events center and headquarters hotel complex to help the city compete for meetings business.
City Councilor Debbie O'Malley told the Journal last week that the council had looked at an almost $400 million proposal for an events center and headquarters hotel that would be funded by a one-eighth of a cent gross receipts tax increase, but no decision has been made yet by the council.
David Campbell, the city's chief administrative officer, who spoke to innkeepers group Thursday, said Mayor Richard Berry is still studying the proposal.
Lockett said the visitors bureau is hoping to show the council and the mayor that the project has business and community support.
"Albuquerque won't die if we don't get this, but Albuquerque won't develop its full potential without it," he said.
When asked by the Journal about adding a tax in hard economic times, Lockett said the timing is right for this kind of project because it will create immediate construction jobs and hospitality positions down the line.
"This is an economic stimulus that says this city is taking its future into it's own hands and won't be a victim of the down economy," he said.
The declaration sets out five conditions of the project:
1. That based on a conservative approach, the project be financially sustainable.
2. That the majority of contractors (used) and jobs created during the construction phases will be Albuquerque companies and residents.
3. That public art will be used in the overall project and design and will complement the history and culture of Albuquerque.
4. That stringent checks and balances will be put in place to ensure the project is managed correctly to obtain the highest probability of being completed on time and on budget.
5. That nonconvention programming at the Event Center will include elements that will be attractive to a broad spectrum of the community.
-- Source: Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau Declaration of General support for an Albuquerque Events Center & Hotel Complex
To view the declaration, visit www.itsatrip.org/abqfuture.
To see more of the Albuquerque Journal, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.abqjournal.com.
Copyright (c) 2010, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
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