Hotel progress, Harrah's renovation helping to drive business to Paducah
By Mason Watkins
One city's loss is another's gain. Metropolis is losing the event center in Harrah's and as a result Paducah's convention center and Carson Center are gaining business.
Jeff Foreman, Director of Operations for the Convention Center and Carson Center, told Local 6 he's been able to book several events that typically took place across the river. Although it's not just the headlining events like Marti Gras and All That Jazz, it's lesser known gatherings like Kentucky's Barr Association, and the Annual Soybean Association meeting.
"We're seeing it grow a little bit now and we're going to see it probably grow by leaps and bounds once that hotel is completed," Foreman said.
Speaking of which, anyone who's driven past the site for the new hotel has probably noticed the pavilion is still up. Paducah Riverfront Development Authority Director Steve Doolittle said that doesn't mean plans have stalled.
"I know it looks like what's going on is a vacant lot is sitting there, but there's a lot of things going on between the attorneys accountants, the bankers, and engineers," he explained.
He went on to say that Paducah's City Commission will introduce an ordinance to authorize use of industrial development bonds for the financing for the hotel. That sets up two things that can happen in Frankfort. On June 26, there will be a hearing about tax credits. The hotel company is expecting $3.5 to $4 million dollars in tax breaks to help the project. Then, on June 30, a meeting with a local debt officer for the issuance of the development bonds by Paducah.
All of that, if it goes to plan, will mean crews could break ground in August, which is one reason the pavilion is still up. The structure is for sale, and although there haven't been any offers yet, just like a house for sale, it would show better if it was inflated.
Foreman is just one of the people who is anxious to see work start because then they can market for both the convention center and hotel. In the meantime, he said he's in talks with organizers of one of the largest event Harrah's used to host, Dancing With Our Stars. He said the center has the same space as Harrah's, but it is a little different shape.
Rita Bailey, the former organizer for the event, tells Local 6 a committee designed to organize the 2015 event will meet in July to settle the location.
In six to eight weeks, the hotel operators will take over the recruiting and organizing of events at the convention center and Foreman said they'll be able to market much more aggressively.
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