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Judge sets May 22 hearing for hotel deal challenge

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ConventionCenterHotelRendering.jpg

By Julian March
Julian.March@StarNewsOnline.com

WILMINGTON, NC (StarNews) -- Challengers questioning the city of Wilmington's convention center hotel deal will have their day in court.

Superior Court Judge Paul Jones scheduled a May 22 hearing for a case that challenges the city's high-profile hotel deal.

The drama also has a new player. On Thursday, Jones granted a request to allow the owners of the Hilton Wilmington Riverside, Sotherly Hotels Inc., to intervene in the civil suit.

The hotel group will now have a seat at the table along with Raleigh attorney E.D. Gaskins Jr., who represents Wilmington taxpayer Glenn Wells.

Click here to read more at StarNewsOnline.com

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This is interesting

For awhile this lone taxpayer was viewed by the city as nothing more than a nuisance and a thorn in the side of this project. Now that Southby is involved in the legal discussions the ball game has changed as Corporate lawyers are involved.
Of course the city then turned around and got outside counsel, at more costs to taxpayers.
All of this because of their fixation on the Convention Center. Lets face a few unpleasant facts. Conventioneering as a business has fallen off not just because times got tough, but because "online meeting" technology has replaced the need for meetings of thousands of people. WEbcasts have replaced the need for these types of meetings and has increased the need for more "bandwidth".
The city is clearly out of touch with reality but does not want to admit it. In fact this "support" of the convention center hotel appears to be them doubling down on their bet that the CC will not fail. Any person who uses a computer sees the folly of company's (or an industry group) spending money on large scale meetings. There are now alternatives that weren't around in the 60s and 70s.
We were late to the game but the city is loathe to admit it made a mistake. The problem is that if the city supports a hotel through lowered land pricing it is tacitly subsidizing it which is the heart of this legal argument.
If Harmony Hospitality will NOT build if the land were sold a full real estate value, then it's apparent to me that the project is unappealing or worse yet unsustainable for a private enterprise. This would PROVE the city wrong of course which is something they do NOT want.
Of course, Sue Eaton would then be off the hook, as she has said all along that the major failing of the CC itself was the lack of an attached hotel. This would give them an excuse to use for their company's failure in attracting large groups from out of town (which is NOT all their fault, as the technology is passing them by).
The CC was a bad idea and is being made worse by the hotel and the city's outright support of both of these projects shows how clueless they actually are.

Vog