Mixed Reaction to Bayfront Hotel Vote - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Mixed Reaction to Bayfront Hotel Vote

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After Erie County Council's yes vote Tuesday night, the battle of the bayfront hotel development projects is over for now.  And not everyone got what they wanted. Still, both projects are moving forward.

The vote followed months of maneuvering, weeks of public lobbying and days of face to face negotiations.

County council had the votes to guarantee up to a 60 million dollar loan for the second bayfront convention center hotel.  In return the convention center authority will pay the county $65 thousand a year over the life of the bond.

The deal also involves a land swap.  The authority is giving the county a small parcel now used at a parking lot at state and bayfront, which they'll swap for a piece of the Scott development site, for parking spaces that will get the former camtech office space by the Blasco Library back in use.

But the other taxing bodies, the City of Erie and Erie's Public Schools are left out. Kathy Dahlkemper said, "Well the county is the one guaranteeing this, so the county is the one taking the risk and that's why we wanted to lookout for the county's interest in this." 

But Dahlkemper also said those taxing bodies have the option of seeking their own P.I.L.O.T. (payment in lieu of taxes) agreements, and she's confident that this development will spur taxable development with the Harbor Place and GAF sites all part of that. "What we're looking at is the long term, there is lots of taxable property down there that will bring much needed money for the school district and the City of Erie," said the county executive.

Nick Scott Sr. told us he believes that swing vote, Councilman Jay Breneman, did not stand his ground to get more for the county in return for its loan guarantees of up to 60 million dollars.  Scott said, "If those two hotels were building by private developers they would be getting 1.5 million in taxes, so perhaps 600 or 700 thousand dollars a year would have been the answer.  I think Jay Breneman did not hold up his vote long enough to get something more substantial."

Scott also chided the Convention Center Authority for excluding the city and school district.  "I would hope the convention center would reconsider what doing the right thing is, because they're building right here in Erie knowing what problems are...and they have good cash flow, they've collected twenty-four and a half million from the hotel tax since it was imposed and are getting two and a half million in tax from our hotels, so at least let's get the school district and City of Erie to get some benefit from this."

Although disappointed that the county vote didn't go his way, and the Convention Center wouldn't scale back the number of rooms in its hotel, the Harbor Place project will go forward, and Scott along with the city is seeking a public grant for the project and the CRIZ tax abatement from the state.

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