One of the longest running sagas in local political history—proponents' two-decade long quest for a "headquarters hotel" adjacent to the Oregon Convention Center—may have new life again.
The Portland Development Commission budget released Jan. 31 by PDC director Bruce Warner in consultation with Mayor Sam Adams shows the agency will spend 32 percent less money next year overall—$144 million, down from $211 million this year.
But page 43 of the budget shows a projected expenditure of $3.2 million
for a line item described as "HQ Hotel," up from zero last year. Adams was a strong supporter of developing a hotel early in his mayoral tenure but the project collapsed most recently in 2009 under the weight of the global recession and a lack of support from then-Metro Council President David Bragdon
and then-County Chairman Ted Wheeler.
(Metro is involved in the hotel because it runs the convention center. And the county is a recipient of the lodging tax, a key component in financing any hotel deal).
Now, Bragdon and Wheeler have moved on and the convention industry still wants a hotel. Adams, who faces re-election in 2012, would like to have some concrete achievements to parade in front of voters and a revived hotel project would certainly be that.
PDC spokesman Shawn Uhlman did not immediately respond to a request of comment on how the $3.2 million would be spent.
Lobbyist Len Bergstein,
who represents Portland hoteliers threatened by a publicly-subsidized headquarters, says he was unaware the city may be putting more money into the long-contemplated project.
"You're telling me something I did not know," Bergstein told WW
. "I thought that project was dead."