County Looks to Hire Convention Center Hotel Consultant

Salt Palace Convention Center

(KCPW News) An important vote could happen tomorrow for a proposed convention center hotel that would accompany the Salt Palace. The Salt Lake County Council is expected to decide whether to hire a consulting firm called Strategic Advisory Group to help the county develop a financing model for the project. Community Services Director Erin Litvack says a number of developers have approached the county, interested in building such a hotel.

“And they’ve been asking for a public contribution in order to be able to make the project come to fruition,” she says. “From my perspective, we’re hiring a consultant to help the city, the county and potentially the state do their due diligence about what that public contribution should or needs to be in order to make the project a reality.”

If approved, the first phase of the consultant’s work would cost $50,000. After that, the council’s approval would be required once again.

Republican County Council Chairman David Wilde, who opposes the county’s participation in the project, tells KCPW he’s inclined to vote no at tomorrow’s meeting.

“In all the time I’ve been on the council, I’ve never seen us start down a road that we didn’t ultimately end up going all the way down that road,” says Wilde. “I just have serious reservations about a convention center hotel, and I don’t want to get started down that road, because I think we’re going to end up going all the way down it.”

Wilde says such a hotel should only be built with private financing, not a public-private partnership. Limited hotel space is one of the reasons the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer convention is looking at potentially leaving Salt Lake City after its current contract expires following the summer 2014 market.