UPDATED IS IT TRUE PART 2 9-19-2013: “Change the Incentives and Get on with the Hotel Project” EVERYONE WINS

The Incentive Package

The Incentive Package

UPDATE: IS IT TRUE that we incorrectly stated that Marsha Abell was a County Commissioner in 2009?…she was not installed until 2011 and was not in a position to influence the City of Evansville’s demolition of the Executive Inn?…we profoundly apologize to Marsha but must point out that then Commissioners Troy Tornatta and now Mayor Lloyd Winnecke did not join Commissioner Melcher in his call for the City to fulfill their obligations thus enabling the Weinzapfel Administration to set the stage for the acceleration of the losses at the Centre?

IS IT TRUE that Mayor Lloyd Winnecke was a county commissioner when the City of Evansville demolished the Executive Inn?… today Commissioner Abell issued an angry letter to City Council President Connie Robinson admonishing her for the forthcoming NO vote on Mayor Winnecke’s $37.5 Million giveaway for being the last nail in the Centre’s coffin?…the real question that needs to be answered after reading Abell’s scathing letter is why did Commissioner Winnecke in 2009 sit there like deer in the headlights and allow former Mayor Weinzapfel to tear down the Executive Inn and destroy the bridge to nowhere back in 2009? …Commissioner Steve Melcher in 2011 went on TV and objected to what the City did but Commissioners Winnecke and Troy Tornatta just sat there like bumps on a log and let former Mayor Weinzapfel lay waste to the Centre’s business model.

IS IT TRUE Abell lays it all on the line threatening to mothball the Centre, the Old Courthouse, and the Coliseum over continued operating losses?…she certainly makes a practical point and it is a shame that it took the rejection of an impractical spending deal to get her to speak up?…if the Marsha Abell of today had been in a position to join Commissioner Melcher in 2009 to demand that the City of Evansville abide by its legally binding agreement to keep the Executive Inn open until it was replaced then Evansville may not be in the turmoil that it is today over losses and the lack of a hotel?… appeasement did not work for the late British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the face of a strong man with ambition and it did not work for the Vanderburgh County Commissioners in 2009?…Troy and Lloyd should have joined hands in a Nancy Reagan moment in 2009 and “JUST SAID NO” when the City of Evansville attacked the business model of the Centre that was UNDER THEIR STEWARDSHIP at that time?

IS IT TRUE that the Centre loses about $800,000 per year and pays no property taxes?…if the Centre was in private hand it would be paying something like $600,000 per year in property taxes?…if the Centre could be placed in private hands it would create $1.4 Million per year of positive cash flow for local government?…the combination of the Centre, the lot at the corner of Walnut and MLK should be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $37.5 Million?…as HCW is now open to negotiating the downtown hotel project, the City County Observer would like to propose the following compromise:

1. Go forward with the entire construction project as Mayor Winnecke and HCW have already agreed to.

2. Modify the incentives to provide the land, any basic infrastructure, and the Centre to HCW as an incentive to do this project.

3. If HCW wants them and will agree to operate them for 25 years at zero cost to local government throw the Old Courthouse and the Coliseum into the deal as a closing tip but put them on the tax rolls.

IS IT TRUE this is a scenario that everyone wins and the debt of the people of Evansville does not increase by a dime?…the supporters get everything they want?…HCW gets the added benefit of the profits of the convention business?…three losing assets that local government has proven they can’t run are placed onto the tax rolls?…EVERYONE WINS?

IS IT TRUE we made this suggestion back on August 6th?


33 Responses to UPDATED IS IT TRUE PART 2 9-19-2013: “Change the Incentives and Get on with the Hotel Project” EVERYONE WINS

  1. GeorgiaHoosier Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Effing BRILLIANT. Why can’t people that think like this get elected? Hopefully the morons in office can get on board and get this done.

  2. noitall Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm


    • Wayne Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      Marsha does not threat. Just facts.

  3. Pressanykey Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Were we not JUST told in a Winnecke video that the CENTRE is in good shape, receiving $800,000. annually in county food & beverage tax revenue for its upkeep?

    “IS IT TRUE Abell lays it all on the line threatening to mothball the Centre, the Old Courthouse, and the Coliseum over continued operating losses?” (CCO)

    Go for it honey, lets just see how big a hammer you swing. Just try to remember that you do not own that building, the taxpaying citizens of Vanderburgh county own the CENTRE.

    This is NOT the end of the world. This proposed hotel deal has a very high smell factor and we CAN do better. I think common sense is going to prevail here, but it seems not without a lot of unnecessary theatrics.


    • Wayne Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      All Chapters of this book have not been written. Proper consideration must be given to the Editor’s suggestion.

      The odds of getting the IU Med Center downtown improve immensely with a downtown convention hotel. Some City Council members need to think through this.

      • Brad Linzy Reply

        September 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm

        Wayne, does this mean you’d support a gift of The Centre and the adjacent land to a developer in lieu of a subsidy?

        Do you agree this would incentivise a developer to build a limited service hotel closer to 150 rooms that will not compete with The Centre, that will properly service The Centre in accordance with what the free market will currently bear, and that it’s preferable for this project to cost us nothing in terms of our ability to leverage debt in the future should immediate other needs or opportunities arise?

        Do you agree that getting The Centre off the books would be a boon to the people of Vanderburgh County to whom this buildings has been like a tightening noose around their necks?

        Do you agree that if our goal is truly to draw in outside visitors to the City, then a gift of The Centre to a qualified developer/management team would still accomplish that goal without any additional cost on our part?

        Do you agree this would stop the losses while simultaneously creating a taxable property that would generate revenue to be used elsewhere?

        Are we really about to agree on something?

      • Metermaid Reply

        September 20, 2013 at 12:10 am

        Wayne, there you go again, IU doesn’t give a damn about hotels. They want to know what the locals are going to give as an incentive. This city better be prepared to go “all in” in this Texas holdin’ tournament. Those Council members are being prudent, wise, and diligent. Loading up the city’s credit card, not knowing the back side of the equation is nitwittery. Any city can obtain a hotel, not brain surgery, but not all city’s can obtain a medical school. And, more importantly, show us were a med school went belly up…Didn’t the downtown Marriot in Ft. Wayne, IN go belly up last year???

      • onemeover Reply

        September 20, 2013 at 4:56 am

        Why would the medical center require a “convention hotel”? I favor a gift of the center to the hotel builder in order to get taxes, put THEM in charge of getting convention business, and saving the taxpayers 800,000/ yr. If that doesn’t get a hotel…. it must not be financialy feasable. In that case hold it as a bargaining chip for the med.center

      • Pressanykey Reply

        September 20, 2013 at 8:36 am

        “The odds of getting the IU Med Center downtown improve immensely with a downtown convention hotel. Some City Council members need to think through this.” (Wayne)

        * * * * * * * * * * *

        Wayne: I think you have it just backwards. The odds of getting a 3star downtown hotel improve immensely if the IU Med Center is built downtown.

        We no doubt would not have to sweeten the hotel pot nearly as much, if at all, to get it done if the Med Center was a reality.


        • Pressanykey Reply

          September 20, 2013 at 8:42 am

          But answer me this question: Why would Indiana University want to locate their facility in downtown Evansville.

          I can understand why many people in Evansville would love to see that happen, but what would be IU’s incentive for placing it their?


          • Pressanykey

            September 20, 2013 at 8:45 am

            “placing it there.” Heavy brain fog this morning.


  4. jbyrd Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I like that plan

  5. MainStreetDemo Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Convert the Centre into a hotel for Ford Center and 2 problems solved.

    • Wayne Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      Bad practical idea. You can not take a cow and make a horse.

      • Pressanykey Reply

        September 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

        Wayne: I believe MSD is being a little tounge-in-cheek here. It has to do with the primacy of the arena.


  6. V- is-to-r Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    P.A.K.: Down south its called “catbirdin” tactics. Some people have an catbird seat,some are the cats. Most cases neither come out winners in the long run.
    Just noise at the farm so to speak.

  7. What-Next Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    While Joe Wallace offers an interesting proposal, what about hotel developer Huffman’s most recent proposal – cutting the hotel rooms back to 225, ditching the residential, storage, and retail elements of the current proposal, thereby lowering the public funded incentives to $30M?

    Will the city council not even consider Huffman’s new proposal, or make a counter offer to it? Would they rather put all their downtown development eggs in a what-if, maybe, maybe not, downtown medical center?

    Surely the council knows Warrick County will be high bidders for the medical center, as will Martin Development. And both those locations are in very close proximity to Deaconess Gateway, the new heart hospital, the new women’s hospital, and the new VA clinic.

    Oh yeah, and council members may want to remember 2015, the state budget year for the IU medical center coincides with re-election year for city council.

    What’s next?

    • Brad Linzy Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Our side cannot support that subsidy. We have made that point clear to all Councilmen.

      Surplus or losing properties should be expunged from the books, but we would have to be careful about including historic structures… People will become emotionally involved in those. Better to offer those at auction and give interested parties a chance to and make bids.

      • Martha Crosley Reply

        September 19, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        Historic structures are some of the very fabric of Evansville that must be preserved. Before any deal is cut with either building Indiana Landmarks MUST be consulted. It is NOT all about money in every case. I think that Joe went over a big line here as did Marsha but then Marsha is dramatic. The court house and the coliseum were never part of this whole deal until Marsha started slinging anything she could think of so lets back off and get back to the business at hand.

        • Joe Wallace Reply

          September 19, 2013 at 6:16 pm

          My suggestion to tip them with the Coliseum and Court House was for humor. I don’t think they we could pay them to take them.

          I am very serious about the Centre as an incentive for a company that is encouraging us to give them $37.5 Million so we can enjoy the fruits of the convention business. If the convention business is a winner then they profit from it. Either way the taxpayers come out ahead.

          • Martha Crosley

            September 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm

            Thanks Joe. That part I like.

          • Brad Linzy

            September 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm

            I’m 100% on board with that. It makes sense. We should be able to get this subsidy to zero while expunging The Centre from county books, turning a negative into a positive.

          • Metermaid

            September 20, 2013 at 12:13 am

            Joe, while we are at it, let’s give them the Victory Theatre as well…I tell like St. Nick….

        • Rails&RobertsStadium Reply

          September 20, 2013 at 1:21 am

          Thank you for standing up for these structures Martha. This is quite disgusting for these structures to be brought into this mess. However, we’ve been here before. Hank Roberts had to save the coliseum in the 50s after Roberts Stadium opened up. The Conrad Baker Foundation had to save both and the old jail in 65. And, Rick Borries fought Mourdocks plan to privatize these venues in the 90s I believe.

          Even if sold, non-profits mostly occupy these buildings making the idea of property taxes irrelevant anyways.

          If these thrifty nickels want to save the county money, they can start by taking a stand against $14-15 mil for boon dock ball fields, against paying $26 mil for sprawling roads, and against allowing development along the University Parkway. When those multi-million dollar boondoggles are held up to the same criteria historic buildings in this town are is when we can talk about really saving the county (and city) some green.

      • Wayne Reply

        September 19, 2013 at 11:09 pm

        Do not forget the debt/bonds most be properly handled on some these properties.

        Why doesn’t the Council take the lead and come up with there own plan to have a convention hotel? As you know it is easy to criticize.

        We should go for both. Hotel and IU Med Center downtown.

        • Yoda Reply

          September 19, 2013 at 11:16 pm

          Yes we should Wayne. We should pull out all stops to get the IU Med School and then a hotel will come for free. The decision on the Med School is Jan 2014 or 4 short months from now. Can you wait 4 months to save $37.5 Million? It will take two months to vet the deal we have and by the fast way they already folded on $7.5 Million I bet they need this deal more than anyone wants to think. Would you have made that big of a concession without even being asked. These guys are not as well off as our leaders seem to think they are. I think they are used care peddlers at best.

        • Brad Linzy Reply

          September 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm

          The bonds on The Centre expire in 2018. The County could lease The Centre to a developer for $1/year under contract until 2018, at which time they could retire the bonds and complete the transaction.

          It might even be possible to retain some rights for the City to book acts at the Aiken Theatre when not in use.

          If HCW or another developer truly believes in the health of the convention market, let’s put that belief to the test – let’s offer up The Centre as inventive.

    • What-Next Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      There have been many instances of local government accepting parts of a bid while rejecting other parts of the same bid – combining elements of a bid in a way that brought the package into the parameters of a budget without accepting the total bid submitted by the bidder.

  8. Buzzard Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    It’s a helluva idea. Somehow, this needs to get floated to Winnecke so he may be able to save face. Let’s be honest, the only way to get a practical solution like this to fly is to allow Winnecke the opportunity to look like a savior.

    • Wayne Reply

      September 19, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      The Mayor believes in the convention hotel need. Let the Council and the Mayor be the Savior. Just get it done.

  9. JoeBiden Reply

    September 19, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Quick and classy correction by the CCO. I like Marsha. She knows the financial bleeds to the County.

  10. yao Reply

    September 20, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I have it on good sources that the Mayor will scrap the hotel Idea in order to push building the worlds largest BoB’s Gym at the site. This will better serve his fitness projects. And we all know those have done wonders for the city and people are dying to come here to Evanshole to be apart of them! I am no expert, but I did stay at a Holiday INN Express last night! Maybe some of our leaders could do the same.

  11. bubbageek Reply

    September 21, 2013 at 5:42 am

    While the use of the Centre as incentive is brilliant, it will not happen.
    Nothing that might compete with Weinzapfels’ folly will be allowed to live.
    A privately owned/controlled Centre is unwanted.
    They would sooner destroy it.
    Witness the fates of Roberts Stadium and soon to go Mesker Amphitheater.
    Sadly, even great ideas, like Joe’s, can suffer abortion.

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