Developer presents plans for Evansville's downtown convention ho - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Developer presents plans for Evansville's downtown convention hotel

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A presentation of Evansville's new downtown convention hotel plan turned into a marathon question and answer session on Monday night.

The hotel's developer formally presented the plan to the entire council in a three hour long meeting. Once the developers took the podium, even before they could start their presentation, council members began firing, hammering them with questions.

It's clear most council members aren't sold on this plan yet. It's a $74 million project with a public investment of nearly $38 million.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, who was at Monday night's meeting, says this hotel is needed downtown to attract more convention business. But some council members question if a 250 room hotel is really needed. One even asking the developer to come up with an estimate for a 180 room hotel.  

There was also a lot of debate about the number of jobs this would create. The mayor says over 800 jobs would be created, 200 of them permanent.

Some council members questioned those numbers. Some in the audience also voiced their concern, even asking the council to slow down and have a third party look over the plan.

"This is a public risk. This is Evansville helping fund a project. It's not just a private risk and it carries with it serious consideration that I don't know has been available to the public yet," said Joe Langerak, a Hotel Lodging Association representative.

"No one, not Mayor Winnecke, not even Conrad Hilton himself, could create an increase in aggregate demand for hotel rooms simply by building another hotel," Evansville resident, Brad Linzy said. "Imagine that if you could create your own demand just by building a business. How many hotels would there be? We'd put one on every street corner, would we not?"

Bottom line, the mayor's office is standing behind this plan saying it's the best plan for the city, but the city council does have the final say on financing the project.  

As of now, the final vote on this project is set for September 9.

If you didn't get to speak Monday night, you'll have the chance. The mayor's office is hosting six public meetings to present the hotel project to residents in all six wards. The first meeting is Tuesday night.

Click here for more information on those meetings.

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