News Column

Erie City Council hears details of new convention center hotel

August 1, 2014

By Kevin Flowers, Erie Times-News, Pa.



Aug. 01--Erie City Council obtained additional details about the proposed $30 million hotel and parking garage at the Bayfront Convention Center during a study session Thursday at City Hall.

Council wanted to ask questions before a public hearing Wednesday on the project.

The study session included a presentation on the hotel design plans by the Erie firm Kidder Wachter Architecture & Design, which is working with Denver-based Sink Combs Dethlefs. Chuck Iverson, the Erie County Convention Center Authority's director of finance and administration, also attended.

"It was very helpful before Wednesday's hearing to get a visual of what this project is going to look like," Councilman Bob E. Merski said. "This project makes a lot of sense to me."

The new hotel would be the second connected to the Convention Center, 1 Sassafras Street Pier. The facility already is connected to the eight-story, 200-room Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel by an overhead walkway that's open to the public.

The Erie Planning Commission has recommended approval of the project, and the Erie Zoning Hearing Board has granted a height-related zoning variance to the hotel.

Casey Wells, the Erie County Convention Center Authority's executive director, has said the authority needs an additional connected hotel at the Convention Center to provide more hotel rooms for conventions, conferences, large meetings and other events.

The bulk of the project's funding will come from a $25 million state grant and up to $60 million in bond financing that Erie County government has agreed to guarantee.

The authority plans to use Erie County's debt guarantee to save nearly $20 million in interest costs on its borrowing for the hotel project. The Convention Center Authority, in turn, has agreed to give the county $65,000 a year, or nearly $2 million over 30 years, in exchange for that guarantee.

City Council's public hearing is 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Bagnoni Council Chambers at City Hall. Council also has a regular meeting that day, which begins at 9 a.m.

KEVIN FLOWERS can be reached at 870-1693 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNflowers.

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(c)2014 the Erie Times-News (Erie, Pa.)

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Source: Erie Times-News (PA)


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