For 2 1/2 years, I’d hoped our city leaders would (finally) grasp reality to understand the folly of building a convention center on the old Radisson site. But no, it appears some bad ideas never die?
There’s a catalog of reasons why this convention center-hotel project would be foolhardy.
For starters, the location has been wrong from the start. There’s no land available for secondary shopping, entertainment, dining, night life or specialty shops — all convention center basics for successful projects.
Also, competition among smaller regional convention centers is already a growing concern.
To justify their existence, some already offer free convention booking with paid hotel reservations.
Further, the developer is unproven and the 30-year agreement is loaded with unsecured financial pledges, tax giveaways and insufficient default provisions. (Let’s not even talk about $40 million to $45 million in new debt service.)
But probably the most significant reason to kill this project is obsolete planning.
Denton, like too many smaller cities, bought into the myth that convention centers and visitors bring economic development.
Current policy research dispels this misconception, but our city leaders march ahead wearing blinders to all evidence.
There are smarter and better ways to achieve real economic development. But that will require some “unconventional” (pun intended) thinking by city leaders.
We’ve already invested too much time and money on this bad idea. But a few exit ramps still remain before we go over the cliff.
Let’s hope our City Council is smart enough to take one before it’s too late.