Hotel Development Options
The CVB says its previous statement was too broad. One official said that the bureau wants to make sure Columbia's bed tax, which funds tourism education, is untouched. The city of Columbia is looking for an upscale downtown hotel, but the Columbia Visitors and Convention Bureau is concerned using money from the bed tax would cause a snowball effect.
"If we abated that tax for one hotel so that money would return to financing the construction or remodeling of a hotel, then where do you draw the line?" said Lorah Steiner, CVB.
Despite that, Steiner says its dangerous to rule out not using any public funds.
"We collectively, I think, would be shooting ourselves in the foot, we being the hospitality industry, if we said no taxpayer funds, because then the next person who wants to develop and wants an energy credit or nap credit, or anything like that would have to go back and retrack that position," said Steiner.
Creating a tax development district or TDD, is another option for using public money. One the Regency Hotel does hope to use in its rebuilding process.
"It would be that the guests that stay with us would be taxed an additional half cent and that's what would help fund the project we're offering to do," said Mike Ebert, Regency Hotel owner.
So there are other options to help private hotels like the Regency refurbish. To sweeten the deal, the Regency is also offering to sell its two parking lots to the city so it can build more parking structures. The CVB is sending its recommendations to the city council this week.