Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Could a Museum Plaza Battle be Brewing?

Museum Plaza, the revolutionary skyscraper that is planned for the Louisville waterfront, got it's first dose of opposition today from an unlikely source - The Convention and Visitors Bureau and various hotel associations across the Commonwealth. At issue is a special funding break that will be granted to the developers of Museum Plaza by the State Legislature.

In a nutshell, this project will be massive. And to help the developers recoup much of their investments in public infrastructure the city crafted a plan to rebate certain taxes - one of them being the hotel room tax. This change must be approved by the state.

Hotel associations are against this change for several reasons - the most glaring reason is because this will divert funds away from their groups. (Hotel rooms taxes help pay for these types of associations) Their stated reason is because this type of action will lead to other developers wanting the same sorts of changes.

Their first reason to opposition is terribly short-sighted. A complex such as Museum Plaza will be a huge draw for the city of Louisville, and will only improve the city's tourist and cultural attractions. This will eventually spur more business for their members.

Their stated reason is also, well, silly in my opinion. If there ever has been a project in Kentucky that has ever needed tax rebates, this may be the best example in decades. This building is everything and more that a city like Louisville could ever wish for. It is multi-use, daring, and awe-inspiring. This is a building that will be noticed worldwide. Chances like this are once in a century.

If there are ever other hotel projects in Kentucky that are massive on a scale like this, I don't see what the problem would be to rebate those projects taxes too into the public infrastructure needs, instead of being diverted to these hotel associations and other uses. But to think that suddenly there is going to be a string of Motel 6's and Comfort Inn's clamoring and gaining tax rebates like this is absurd. Monumental projects deserve special consideration.

On the other end of the spectrum are the developers of this 465 million dollar project saying that if this doesn't pass as is currently planned, then all their dreams and hopes are dashed and they will cancel the project - that's hogwash. They're trying to get the absolute best deal possible for themselves. The Visitors Bureau threw down the gauntlet and the MP developers threw up the scare tactics.

When this little debate get to the State Legislature I would put my chips with Museum Plaza. You've got the Jefferson County members for it, the mayor, and the governor. Not to mention some of Kentucky's richest citizens. This will either pass to the benefit of MP or a quiet compromise will be reached and we'll be left scratching our heads as to why this even was an issue.

The Visitors Bureau does not want to see this project disappear and the developers are not going to make this issue the ball buster they want you to think it is. MP will get what it wants, or at the very least, a compromise they're willing to live with, and Louisville will get this landmark.

But for goodness sake, can you keep the squabbling to a minimum?

No comments: