Tax incentives can mean downtown growth

Owensboro has invested $99 million to bring people back downtown by the water.

Owensboro City Manager Bill Parrish says Paducah has the same potential. He remembers making the first step in revitalizing their downtown. They’ve done that around water.

Paducah is giving Lingate hospitality $900,000 as an incentive to build a Holiday Inn next to the convention center. That check should cover some upgrades and construction. They’re also leasing the property and signing it over in 20 years.

Incentives aren’t a foreign concept, and sometimes they’re necessary, according to Parrish. He says they invested in their first downtown hotel, too.

We supplied the land. We bought the utility hookups to the hotel. We paid for the tap fees,” Parrish said. He is already seeing that return. In fact, Lingate bought the property the current Holiday Inn sits on for full market price.

“From every person that stays in a hotel, they spend on average $170 a night when they’re here,” Parrish added. He says the first hotel was needed but, because it's drawing more people downtown, they’re no longer offering economic incentives.

The Owensboro Convention Center Sales Manager Laura Alexander says more conventions will start coming once they have a place to stay in walking distance from the center. Alexander says those incentives are already paying off. They booked 305 events the first year it opened. Now, they say they often have multiple events on the same day.

The cities both have riverfronts. They also both struggled to fill their downtown areas after both of them had Executive Inns torn down. “When the hotel was torn down here in Owensboro, and the same thing in Paducah, you don't have as many people going downtown to that area,” Alexander said.

Another similarity is both cities are building on the footprint of the Executive Inn.

There is no timeline at this point, but Claude Bacon with Lingate says “We’re still coming.” 

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