Have You Seen R.I.P. Dallas?

That’s what a FBvian just asked me, referring to a new pro-convention center hotel site, adding “I think the hotel’s supporters have taken the gloves off.” You be the judge. Here is the site in question.

UPDATE: For the record, nothing on R.I.P. Dallas is as bizarre as John Wiley Price somehow conflating the hotel with Jim Crow laws. Now THAT is taking the gloves off.

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Comments

46 responses to “Have You Seen R.I.P. Dallas?”

  1. Bethany says:

    That argument makes about as much sense as some of the others, you know.

  2. Yeah, you know it’s gonna get messy when someone puts up a website and then makes sure the domain registration (ownership) is kept secret.

    So the question becomes: How will they list the expense for this site on the Vote No’s campaign financial statement?

  3. Bethany says:

    Just a question – how many of those people voting “No!” were also at the tea parties yesterday?

    I mean, I have no problem with either on their own, but together, is it hypocritical?

  4. Gadfly says:

    The design is horrendous. It’s all dark, gloom and doom–with the grim reaper pointing his bony whatever at me. White copy on black background makes for a torturous read.

    The dallas.org website is slick and fun to read, and this one is like “hell”.

  5. JG says:

    I like it, but I am already in the vote no camp.

  6. Bobby Ewing says:

    Not only is the site badly designed “faux edgy”…the Carol Reed PR machine/Mayor has attempted to make this about one person (the billionaire) instead of focusing on the ISSUES. Give me a break. I can only hope that ads don’t follow. This is getting messy and the pro-hotel folks are piling up one bad attempt to shine the light elsewhere after another.

  7. Becca says:

    if the site had leppert doing jazz hands, i’d consider voting no.

  8. Pour One Out for Dallas says:

    talk about distractions…getting wrapped up in the design of the site!

    follow the facts and they can only lead to a Vote No on May 9th.

    If either of these propositions pass, it will sound the death knell for business in Dallas. Don’t let one billionaire, who doesnt even live in Dallas, convince you this hotel is not in the best interest of the city.

    This is a reasonable risk/reward project for the taxpayers of the City of Dallas.

  9. Bethany says:

    Couldn’t harping on the fact that Harlan Crow can’t vote in Dallas proper be construed as meaning that Dallas isn’t business friendly, unless its owners live in Dallas?

  10. Nigel Tufnel says:

    Simply by virtue of JWP being in the “Vote No” camp have I determined my “Yes” vote.

  11. Bobby Ewing says:

    @Pour One Out: I need help with this question and let’s dismiss personalities and Web design. How will a $500 million hotel that in its business plan MUST maintain higher occupancy than any other hotel and MUST charge more than the average business hotel actually make money? And how many conventions and tradeshows per year held at the convention center will it take to reach this level?

  12. JB says:

    I get that some Dallasites might have a problem with Harlan Crow not actually living in an area that votes for Dallas issues and I also understand animosity that Dallasites have for the Park Cities but that certainly is not a two-way street. Anyone who has ever lived or lives in the Park cities, loves Dallas and only wants to see the entire city thrive. Somebody on the vote no campaign please give me one sensible reason why Mr. Crow’s campaign that is supposedly backing for Dallas to fall back into the Dark Ages would benefit Mr. Crow’s own Billionaire status? If having the City in the hotel business is going to make Dallas the land of milk and honey and the new convention hotel will bring so many hordes of conventioneers that the overflow will have to hole up in other hotels, why would Mr. Crow oppose it and welcome the convention center hotel to supplement his own business? There simply is no logic in having a city owned hotel when private companies are doing the job just fine.

  13. JG says:

    Independent of what you think about the convention center hotel, the wording of both propositions goes far beyond stopping this particular hotel and sure looks like it would prevent any future lodging or retail development incentives from the city going forward.

    Not to say that every development incentive or investment is a good idea, but you don’t want to tie a city’s hands to all of them simply because you dislike one in particular.

  14. Pour One Out for Dallas says:

    I don’t know how many conventions it will need in a year, but I do know that it will be the only brand-new, Class A hotel in downtown. It stands to reason a gleaming new hotel could charge more and get more people to come. I don’t see the huge disconnect there.
    I do think – given the fact the hotel will be financed with revenue bonds – it is a relatively attractive risk/reward bet for the taxpayers of Dallas. If it works – and I think it will – then we all benefit, in the form of lower taxes, more amenities downtown and more ancillary development. If it doesn’t work, then we always have the option of letting bondholders foreclose without taxpayers ever contributing a dime to the construction or operation of the hotel.

  15. Rico says:

    No $$ support from the city, Mayor, or Vote NO campaign….this is as grassroots as it gets.

    The young professionals of Dallas care about the future of our city…we want to be proud of our city and the progress it makes now and in the future. This ultimately isn’t even about a single hotel or one billionaire…it’s about development and revitalization in areas that need it most. Without city involvement and monetary incentives, reviving downtown and surrounding areas just wouldn’t have happened, and won’t happen without it in the future.
    http://www.ripdallas.com/photos.html

    If these Propositions pass, it hurts Dallas in the long run…not just the next couple of years.

  16. Krueger says:

    The site has nothing to do with the Reeds or the official Vote No campaign. Totally grass roots group that supports the Vote NO campaign but is centered on and financed by 25-35 crowd of professionals in Big D.

    And as for why taxpayers need to help finance a hotel when “private interests can do it just fine”… (sigh) for the 50th time people, “if private interests wanted to do it all by themselves they would have by now.” Downtown Dallas needs a kick. It is NOT downtown Chicago, downtown Manhattan, downtown Seattle or downtown San Francisco. Private interests will participate ONLY IF the city helps. GET IT?!!!

  17. Dallas pasties says:

    Rico and Krueger (I assume I am refering to you as the “young professionals of Dallas”?), maybe coming up with oyur own ideas rather than repeating fodder from a piss-poor website might help build some support.
    It is laughable to hear many of the pro hotel comments, especially given the St. Louis city owned hotel episode. The convention growth will not be dependent upon a crappy city owned infrastructure, rather the ability to take the party bus to garland for the t*tty bar shows.
    Now that is where I see many of the “Young Professionals of Dallas” aka the $30,000 DB millionaires.

  18. Free advice for PR machines: Vary the talking points memos and don’t give everyone the same sheet. When variations of the same comments start popping up on several blogs under different names, it rings hollow.

  19. Krueger says:

    Yes it gets a little sad and silly when people keep using St. Louis over and over again as an indicator of what will happen in Dallas. I mean really — dude — you really don’t think a convention center hotel in DALLAS is going to do better than one in St. LOUIS? Gimme a break…

  20. Actually, I don’t think it will do as well as St. Louis, given the state of the meetings industry.

    City demographics may differ between Dallas and St. Louis, but that has nothing to do with the long-term decline in the convention business nationwide, nor the fact that what Dallas and St. Louis have in common is a lack of any exciting tourist draw. Nor the fact that the vacancy rate in St. Louis is lower than Dallas.

    People don’t book conventions in St. Louis for the same reason they don’t book in Dallas — because we are not Las Vegas (also down), Orlando (also down) or San Diego (also down).

    All philosophical issues aside, the bottom line is the bottom line: If this hotel was assured to make money, private interests would build it. Period. Full stop. That’s what private sector developers do — invest to make money. They run screaming from investments that don’t make money.

  21. Sam P says:

    To Krueger,

    We need to get something straight. Dallas has all of the potential in the world to be a prosperous city, attractive to out-of-towners and conventioneers alike. There I said it, NOW, what does not make long-term financial sense for the City or for it’s taxpayers is to take a leap off the high-dive and build this hotel just for the sake of doing so. The comparisons to cities like Houston, Denver, and St. Louis ARE important; we (Dallas) are just as susceptible to failed government-led projects and it is not responsible for us to continue down this path with blinders on to the economics of the downtown hotel industry.

    A few facts:

    Proponents of the hotel claim that it will generate $360 million of profits (on a $550 million investment). What you should also know is that these profits are anticipated over a 30-year time period! You should also know that the $360 million profits estimate is based on aggressive revenue assumptions from an April 2008 study. A few things have changed since last year.

    The historical average occupancy of the seven major downtown Dallas hotels is 55%. The projections supporting $360 million of profits are based on average occupancy levels of 67%! Once additional supply is added to the downtown market, the entire occupancy of downtown hotels is going to decline. That’s when we’ll begin seeing headlines across D that those bonds – which were pitched as a non-issue by the Mayor – are soon to default.

    And that brings me back to St. Louis.

  22. Krueger says:

    Well that would explain why Jerry Jones asked Arlington for help to build Cowboys Stadium doesn’t it?

    Apparently the stadium is unlikely to make any money over its lifespan. For if it were a surefire money maker, following your logic, he should be more than willing to build it in Arlington with all his own money, right?

  23. Why don’t you take a long look at the performance and history of taxpayer subsidized stadiums and get back to me. You won’t like what you find.

  24. Krueger says:

    So you’re saying Cowboys Stadium over its lifetime will not make any money?

  25. JB says:

    @ kreuger

    For Arlington or Jerry?

  26. HSH says:

    Krueger:

    I suggest you read the city’s own hotel consultant’s report on the hotel before you start spouting off Carol’s talking points. If this hotel was such a winner, private money would finance it. Instead, the taxpayers of Dallas will be stuck with the bill.

    Oh, and Pour One Out for Dallas, as to the out of your ass remark that this taxpayer owned hotel would be the only “class A” hotel space downtown, let me introduce you to the Adolphus, Westin, Hyatt Regency and Fairmont. You hurt their feelings.

  27. Krueger says:

    Dont matter. Trey said if the hotel would make money (for anybody) a private developer would jump on doing it with their own funds.

    So if Cowboys Stadium is going to make money — for Jerry, Arlington OR both — how come he aint paying for it entirely with his own money as Trey insists these developers will?

    Besides, the Proposition isn’t just about the convention center hotel. It will prevent the city of Dallas from offering financing OR owning any hotel anywhere within the city limits from now on.

    Now THAT is a bad economic policy if ever I heard one.

  28. I’m guessing you’re new to Dallas.

    So if Cowboys Stadium is going to make money – for Jerry, Arlington OR both – how come he aint paying for it entirely with his own money as Trey insists these developers will?

    I’m not sure you’re advancing your argument very well. Perhaps a refresher seminar?

    Jerry was able to play municipalities against each other to lure him to wherever the sweetest deal was. Why shouldn’t he try to sucker a city government into helping him pay for his stadium?


    Besides, the Proposition isn’t just about the convention center hotel. It will prevent the city of Dallas from offering financing OR owning any hotel anywhere within the city limits from now on.

    Also not true.

    (c) This section does not prohibit:
    (i) the adoption of a tax increment financing district or tax abatement agreement in accordance with state law;

    As to this:

    owning any hotel anywhere within the city limits from now on.

    Why should the city — any city — own a hotel? City governments aren’t established to get into the hotel business, anymore than they are established to get into the restaurant business or the retail clothing business.

  29. ChuckE says:

    Jerry didn’t pay for all of his stadium because Arlington was more than willing to pony up to land the stadium there. If you were Jerry, would you turn down free money?

  30. ChuckE says:

    Trey beat me to it.

  31. Krueger says:

    Thank you Trey and Chuck E for proving my point.

    Developers these days DO NOT want to fund projects with their own funds when they can partner with down and out localities. Sure, they’ll drop something of their own in Frisco, Southlake and Las Colinas where the risk is less.

    But Dallas and Arlington are cities that are hurting and in need of a tax boost. That’s why they, unlike the others, have to partner with a developer for the deal to get done.

    Trey — moved here in 1966. You?

    And are you still contending the Young Republicans of Dallas have nothing to do with RIP Dallas?

  32. Future Politician says:

    1) I see a real difference between a hotel in Dallas and a new stadium somewhere for Jerry. No private developer is looking to build a convention center hotel and in the process looking for government help to offset a portion of the costs, as Jerry was with his stadium.
    2) This would be an entirely different deal if a developer approached the city and said they wanted to build a hotel at the convention center if the city would be able to offset a portion of the costs. In this whole saga, I know of now developer willing to do this.
    3) As a conservative, I believe in small, limited governments. On the face of the issue, I see no reason for a city to own a hotel. If a hotel at the convention center would be a good thing for the city – then the city’s job is to do whatever is in its power to make that a viable situation for a private group. The city has a number of tools at its disposal to make this kind of thing happen – when it makes sense.
    4) I believe Trey also mentioned the economic factors. Being in the meeting industry, I can tell you that this is not a good time for meetings and conventions. Orlando, Vegas and San Diego might be the places to go, but for organizations behind these conventions – they are looking for 1 big thing – where can they go to maximize the use of their dollar. So, a convention center hotel in Dallas has to compete with large hotels everywhere. I am pretty certain that I can get a cheaper room in Vegas than downtown Dallas (with our without a new hotel). Back to my point – the downturn in the convention business will probably be with us for a few years. So, how long can the city go with its hotel being a drain on finances? And how does that impact the core city services?

  33. Rico says:

    TG:
    This section (c) you refer to only says the city can still adopt TIF districts. Nowhere does it say TIF funds will be allowed to go toward a hotel or any lodging facility (including multi-family)…this would be in contradiction of part A.

    In response to having a city owned hotel…Isn’t the City already in the hotel business (DFW Hyatt) and the sports stadium business (American Airlines Center and the Cotton Bowl)? Those have worked out well, haven’t they?

  34. Zac Crain says:

    @Future Politician: I will only speak to point 2. Jack Matthews, the current developer, was willing to pay for the entire thing, basically, by himself.

  35. Future Politician says:

    Rico:
    DFW (Airport) Hyatt – wouldn’t that belong to the airport authority – which is owned by consortium of all local cities?

    Stadium business – a very loose extension of city parks. I’m not sure we would consider the Cotton Bowl a good investment. How many millions were spent in renovations over the past couple of years – and how many games did those improvements affect – and what was the return on that investment? You may have made my point for me.

  36. Krueger says:

    Boy you are a FUTURE POLITICIAN aren’t you? Dallas is the lead city in the airport authority. The airport authority owns the Grand Hyatt. So, the city of Dallas owns the Grand Hyatt. GOT IT?

    I’m not sure you’re winning many FUTURE VOTERS with your silly semantics. The bottom line — the city already is an owner of a hotel — NOT the new and untried and unsuccessful concept you are trying to make people think it is.

    The populace is not as stupid as you think we is…

  37. Krueger says:

    Rico is correct and no one has been able to refute him. Part C only says TIFs can still be created — not that they will be allowed to give money to lodging.

    And even if they could, if what the hotel needed was $1 million or more in incentives (a sure thing), Prop 2 would require the city and the developer to sit and wait until voters all over Dallas approve the project’s financing.

    One other thing Prop 1 would do? Not allow the city to provide financing for an international student hostelry (that’s lodging). Or give money to a possible senior complex that wants to have rooms for rent set aside for family, etc as many do these days (cause, that’s lodging).

    The wording’s too vague. Even the Vote Yes crowd who helped write it admits so. Vote NO!

  38. Future Politician says:

    Zac:
    Thanks for the link. At this point I’m forced to ask, “Why should the city pay for a hotel when someone else was willing to do it?”

    Krueger:
    I realize that Dallas is among the cities that owns the airport authority. I might be splitting hairs, but I think the situations are a little different. Apples and oranges are still fruits, but they sure are different.

    I am sorry that you have become emotional over this. In my mind it is really just a philosophical difference as to the role of governments.

  39. sjthornton says:

    Harlan Crow’s Anatole has had the lion’s share of convention business because it has the largest ballroom, plus another couple decent size rooms for break-outs, meals, etc. Doing shows there is a pain because the service has never been great, and it’s a hike between ballrooms. Who can blame him for wanting to protect his interests?

    I’m all for the convention center hotel. When I was in the convention business, it was hard to talk meeting planners into Dallas because there wasn’t one place to put attendees. Imagine you’re a meeting planner and you have to organize transportation between 3 hotels for your attendees and to get them to the hotel with the best ballroom configuration. Nightmare.

    A convention center hotel will provide enough rooms, the newest technology, and immediate proximity to the center. That’s what meeting planners and corporations are looking for.

    Dallas is perfectly situated in the middle of the country with an international airport. It’s a great place for a conference. And I’d be real careful with the old “conventioneers/gentlemen’s clubs” shtick. The many, many female meeting planners and corporate CEO’s are not amused.

  40. JB says:

    Hey…..Why doesn’t the City just build a convention center next to the DFW Hyatt?

  41. Krueger says:

    Future Politician: I only get (a little) emotional when someone makes a statement like this — “On the face of the issue, I see no reason for a city to own a hotel” but then says well it’s OK for a city to own that one over there but THATS different…without explaining WHY IT IS DIFFERENT.

    If you’re hearing mad in my post, I’m not. I do know people come to this and other blogs to try to get worthwhile information and get a lot of half and/or mis-information instead.

    Are we agreed that 1) The concept of the city of Dallas owning a hotel is not a new one at all and 2) no one can DEFINITIVELY prove one way or the other that the city having ownership in the convention center hotel will be a good or bad thing for the city long-term?

    If so, it just comes down basically to calculated risk — the same thing a young couple faces when trying to decide whether they should spring for the mortgage with no definitive guarantee they’ll be able to pay it off over 30 years, or the risk a young person takes assuming $80,000 in college loans with no definitive guarantee it will get them a job.

    Only difference? We DEFINITELY have meeting planners saying they will not bring us their larger conventions under any circumstances without a convention center hotel. That’s all I need to know to consider the risk a worthwhile one to make — whether it pays off or not.

  42. Krueger says:

    SJ Thornton — Thank you for bringing a voice of reason and wisdom to this topic. Like you, I spend a lof of time in the convention/meeting planning business. It is obvious the Vote Yes camp does not know what it’s talking about from a convention industry standpoint.

    And, as you point out, that some of them are blatantly sexist.

    Hey Trey — Still claiming the Young Republicans have nothing to do with RIP Dallas? Nothing hurts a blogger/editor’s street cred more, you know, than botching the fundamental who what when where why of a story…

  43. Dallas pasties says:

    “it’s obvious the vote Yes camp does not know what it’s talking about from a convention industry stadnpoint”.
    It makes me laugh that a free meal can bring out all these so called young business experts. No one can defend that Dallas is not a convention destination due to the economy (like everywhere else) and the fact that the city has enacted ordinances that conventioneers will look for elsewhere (the ability to smoke in a bar and the desire to look at a pair of silicone enhanced boobs).
    If the young business people are such a vibrant force how come they don’t hold the Mayor to task over some of the infracstrucutre issues faced every day by taxpayers of this city (yes I own my home as opposed to leasing a trendyt loft downtown). maybe if Leppert could show some commitment on the front of roads, crumbling government buildings and parks, then the people would stand behind him.
    The easy solution is the one that Leppert (via Reed and the young lemmings) doesn’t want. Let the people vote.

  44. At what point did I suggest DallasRIP has, or does not have, connections with the Young Republicans?

  45. louis says:

    When we say not having the hotel would hurt “Dallas” are we talking about the city or the region?

    I care more about the “region” than the “city”…