Hilton Worldwide Chosen To Operate Convention Center Hotel

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County Executive Ed FitzGerald says Hilton Worldwide was one of six companies that made proposals to manage the future 650 room hotel. It will go up where the county administration building now stands. When finished it will be the largest hotel in the city.

It will be connected underground to the convention center, which FitzGerald says is essential for Cleveland's convention business to succeed.

Fitzgerald: "If you look at our primary competition, whether it's Columbus or Cincinnati or Indianapolis, all of them have attached hotels. That is just a deal breaker for many conventions when they're looking at where they want to locate their events."

FitzGerald defends the idea of a county-owned hotel, rather than a privately owned one. He says the property was put up for sale to prospective hotel operators, and the best offer was a couple of million dollars and a plan to replace the administration building with a parking garage.

FitzGerald. "Maybe it would have gotten a good headline for a moment or two because we could have said we sold off the county administration building. But to just have a parking garage, a glorified parking garage to be next to this incredible mall would have been a complete waste of the public space, and I think would have been in contravention to good public planning."

Ted Radcliff, Senior Vice President of Operations for Hilton Worldwide, says the company runs numerous convention center hotels that are publicly owned, and that it's not an unusual model.

The hotel will be financed through a bond sale, which will be paid off with through hotel revenues, new tax revenues, left-over funds from the convention center and other sources. Construction is expected to begin by the end of this year, with the opening slated for 2016.

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