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ONLY ON 3: Future funding for New Hanover Co. beach renourishment in question

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Future funding for New Hanover Co. beach renourishment in question
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Beaches along Pleasure Island need to be renourished and it's going to cost New Hanover County a lot to get it done. According to an agreement still being discussed, the state and federal government will throw in a portion of the price tag, but that funding could soon come to an end.

The county is between a rock and a hard place. New Hanover County Commissioners are at a point where funding beach renourishment could soon be put on the shoulders of the county. Also, it seems the Wilmington Convention Center is making it even more difficult to protect the county's beaches.

Commissioners, along with town leaders from both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, met Thursday to discuss a $14 million beach renourishment project agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers. However, the county may have to give more money than they thought.

“They were going ahead with the beach renourishment as planned and then the state said they would not be responsible for any overages and that threw them into a tailspin,” Kure Beach Mayor Dean Lambeth says.

The project agreement calls for the county to contribute more than $9 million, money that would come from the county's room occupancy tax. For the past three years, at least $3 million that would have gone towards renourishment and tourism promotion has helped pay for the Wilmington Convention Center.

“The convention center is taking in $1 million a year, so yea that would have helped,” Lambeth says.

County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield feels funding for both beaches and the convention center is important, but admits the future for beach renourishment in the county looks a little bleak.

“My concern is that long term what that would mean for that particular fund if the federal government and the state government totally shift the responsibility of beach renourishment down to the local level,” Barfield says. “We've got to find some alternative mechanisms to fund that as well.”

Commissioners will decide Tuesday whether to go through with the agreement and spend the more than $9 million plus any extra costs that could come up. During their Thursday meeting, Commissioners were unsure about having to pay the extra expenses if the project goes over budget. Chairman Ted Davis referred to the agreement as a possible "slippery slope."

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MARY O.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR FIGURES FROM? I HAVEN'T SEEN ANY OF THIS IN THE PAPERS. I DON'T THINK THE CONVENTION CENTER WILL PAY FOR ITSELF. EVEN MYRTLE BEACH IS NOT PROTIFITABLE. ALSO, IF THE BEACHES ARE NOT RENOURISHED, WILL THE TOURIST STOP COMING? TIME WILL TELL, AS IT HAS IN THE PAST. ALSO, THE SKYLINE BRIDGE AND BASE BALL STADIUM WILL REALLY PUT WILM. AND NEW HANOVER IN A HOLE.

HeyVog...

I find it hilarious how the Convention Center management defines an "event". If you or I were to hold a business meeting with just us present...that's an "event" and counted as such.

Taxpayer

I did some research on down town. Back in 2006 WDI wanted to double our number of hotel rooms in the area from 480 to 960. They said that the CC hotel would be 200 rooms by itself. Well that still leaves 960 -200 or 760 - or we should have at least an additional 280 rooms by now.
I don't know of any hotels that large being completed recently down town. IN fact wasn't there a run down place that closed on 3rd st?
basically I'm saying this.
It appears as though theres been no net change to hotel room numbers since 2006 - yet the CC opened.
If they have been SO SUCCESSFUL why is it that hotels down town still have vacancies? Have I missed something here?
Heck even Schoninger was supposed to put up a hotel on his land down town, and that hasn't happened either.
But if all these conventions are so good for the city wheres the hotel room shortage?

Vog

You hit it on the head

the one on 3rd street was demolished and it was an eyesore prior to demolition.

Go out Market Street a few blocks and you have a plethora of hotels which are competing with cut rate room rates to try to fill rooms.

And with regards to the Hotel Indigo, I thought the city council had to grant a 4 month extension to allow further planning and negotiating by the developer. I would not count those rooms yet.

Hotel Indigo

Will open in 2015 spring,was planned for 194 rooms,had to draw plans to 174 rooms.

Chuck-

You better Hope & Pray that "Hotel Indigo" DOES NOT open in 2015.
According to the Star News, hotel Indigo is Shoningers proposed hotel - not the convention center hotel:
http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20120408/ARTICLES/120409744

"If successful, Schoninger's proposed Indigo hotel and 204-slip marina could be the first project in the state chiefly funded through the EB-5 program."

IF Shoninger does get his hotel? My guess is you won't EVER see a hotel attached to the CC.
There's not enough business in that downtown location to justify the additional rooms.

Vog

Chuck

Let me ask you something.
You're a big proponent of baseball and the stadium and you "argue" that the "industry pros" did the study that said the stadium will be successful - right?

OK. Suppose, if you will that YOU are the guy doing the Hotel study.
You find the following facts:
There's NO room shortage in the down town area.
And within 5 miles you have other hotels that can take up the slack anyway.
The new CC isn't attracting over night guests as well as it should.
Convention attendance is down and has been for years.
There's another "Hilton" licensed hotel providing direct competition.
The ball park issue is far from settled, and is a "local" event to begin with.
Myrtle Beach had a good year but not great, and their CC is under utilized.
Local beach towns also had a good year

You see all of this and you realize the main draw in this area are the beaches, golf, fishing and fun things associated with vacations but not work or professional organizations. Not downtown, but in the outlying communities.

If your job depended on it - your livelyhood.

Would you recommend to your company they spend $25M on a hotel next to the convention center?
Vog

Re: Taxpayer

Spot-on Vog!

It's sad that our City leaders have a "Field of Dreams" mentality.

Mary

First of all I didn't forget that the room occupancy tax is paying for the CC - your Jim Jones type devotion to the CC has blinded you to what I wrote.
There are only 6 public events scheduled for the CC from now until the end of the year.
No major concert events,,,
I wonder....
So at $41M in new business after tax is $2.85M.
Remember that some of this money is directly paid to florists, caterers etc so that not all of it is hotel room tax generated.

So Mary-
How much $ did the county make off the CC and how much did it cost to operate? Is it profitable? How much did the city make?
Or is debt servicing paid for completely?

IF a local business books a meeting its an event. 100 people attend.
Who makes money?
No hotel taxes generated - right?
Attendees are counted as "new" tourists - right?
The cost of the event is listed as revenues right?
So using a local event how much does the city and county make?
If you answer anything other than a negative number - you're lying because its costs more to operate for that sized local gathering than it brings in.
In order for the CC to be profitable it must host more events that take in more genuine tourists. It has to generate a LOT of room occupancy to generate more taxes.
If the Hilton and Best Western had vacant room throughout the summer season is it safe to say the CC didn't bring in ANY tourists tis summer?
If we're on our 4th attempt at a CC hotel and that attempt is now DOWNSIZED is it safe to say there's not a great DEMAND for rooms down there?? Hmmmmmm??
Thats OK - you're the convention center Duke cheerleader.
I'm glad that its paid for by room taxes but now we face another dilemma regarding beach sand.
Does the WAHA and CFVB support increasing hotel room taxes county wide (including those in down town Wilmington) to provide beach and re nourishment???
Or Not?

Vog

VOG46&MARY

Wow Vog46--You sure did let Mary get to you! LOL

GuestLOL

I suppose I did let "Mary" get to me.
But when someone says the CC is a "great" addition to our city I kinda sit up.
When they say it too often I say whats up with that?
And when I find out they're saying it often because it will convince people its good then I really start looking at things.

Is like the down town ball park.
If its too good to be true it probably is.
I just don't want a repeat of the CC......

Vog