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Isthmus on Edgewater

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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Huckleby » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:27 pm

rabble wrote: How the hell many hotels do we need for cryin out loud?

As many as can stay in business.

What the hell are we, a socialist planned economy?

Private investers are willing to sink $80M into this project, and it results in a significant short and long term stimulus for the economy. The opponents of this project seem to dismiss this aspect without comment, simply making a philisophical argument against TIF.

On the one hand, critics are complaining (ridicuously) that the hotel is a playground for the rich. On the other, they are resentful that unskilled workers will find jobs there. Not sure which argument is more snooty.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby jjoyce » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:30 pm

Brilliantly put, rabble.

Hey, I don't want a hotel in my neighborhood, either. But unlike the residents of Dudgeon-Monroe and Mansion Hill, I don't live in the shadow of Camp Randall Stadium or the State Capitol.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby rabble » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:41 pm

Huckleby wrote:
rabble wrote: How the hell many hotels do we need for cryin out loud?

As many as can stay in business.

What the hell are we, a socialist planned economy?

Private investers are willing to sink $80M into this project, and it results in a significant short and long term stimulus for the economy. The opponents of this project seem to dismiss this aspect without comment, simply making a philisophical argument against TIF.

On the one hand, critics are complaining (ridicuously) that the hotel is a playground for the rich. On the other, they are resentful that unskilled workers will find jobs there. Not sure which argument is more snooty.

The argument is that we are just becoming more and more of a service society when we SHOULD be moving more towards self sufficiency.

And it sure looks to me like we have developers building things just because they love to build things without regard for whether they're really needed. For them, the indicator that we've reached the limit doesn't exist. We're the ones who deal with the empty spaces. How long did the red hotel languish?

But that's too damn snooty. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it anyway. So y'all have fun.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Huckleby » Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:09 pm

rabble wrote: The argument is that we are just becoming more and more of a service society when we SHOULD be moving more towards self sufficiency .


Its really a complicated issue. "Self sufficiency" is now an obsolete concept, the economy is thoroughly globalized. We depend on exports, and need to import what we can't competitively produce. That ship has sailed.

I agree that we don't want an economy based on Rick Perry jobs.

What is the answer to producing better quality jobs? That is really a hard problem. Education is probably weapon #1, and its going to be a long term project.

I think we need to shift tax burden away from businesses and onto individuals. I know that sounds unprogressive, but it really need not be. I am for shifting social security tax burden to wealthier people, taxing capital gains just like wage income. etc.

Maybe some government-industry partnerships make sense

If anything, building that hotel will help (in a modest way) small business owners downtown. It will directly add some quality jobs too. The addition of some unskilled jobs is in no way going to hurt efforts to create quality jobs.
Last edited by Huckleby on Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:15 pm

Huckleby wrote:What the hell are we, a socialist planned economy?

TIF money is not exactly an example of laissez-faire capitalism.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:16 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:
Huckleby wrote:What the hell are we, a socialist planned economy?

A TIF grant is not exactly an example of laissez-faire capitalism.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Huckleby » Thu Sep 08, 2011 3:22 pm

Henry Vilas wrote: TIF money is not exactly an example of laissez-faire capitalism.


ya, that's a fair point.

But when private money is willing to pony-up 80%, decision is still driven by market forces.

I am OK with public-private partnerships
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Bad Gradger » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:05 pm

jjoyce wrote:Have you ever been in a downtown hotel? Have you ever spotted the rubles rolling out of these joints?

At this point, I'd almost rather spend the TIF money on updating the Concourse and Inn on the Park. They're dingy and have been coasting too long on their reputations of decades past.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby snoqueen » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:16 pm

If the hotels closer to the convention center got built with private money, why can't Edgewater?

It's in the wrong place, for one thing. It's too far from the convention center for conventioners. I know it sounds silly but they want to walk like 1/2 block in indoors-type conditions to get to their meetings. The last place they'll book a room is some hotel about half a mile away. And bike-vacationers (a growing mini-sector, by the way) like the Sheraton, which is right on a major bike path. Edgewater is limited to serving University functions that can't be handled by the two little hotels closer to campus and the guest rooms that are part of various campus facilities.

I agree with the comments saying the city could and should do better with its (our) TIF money. E. Wash may be blighted; the Lake Mendota shoreline is not. If Edgewater's owners are serious about resurrecting the place, they need to begin by restoring the existing tower using supplementary funds dedicated to restoring old buildings. Then if it shows a profit, they might get more bank loans and build another structure the old-fashioned, private-sector way like their supposed competitors did.

Concourse and Inn on the Park ARE dingy. I completely sympathize with their management in saying TIF for a brand new hotel tower shows pretty thin support for existing Madison businesses.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Ducatista » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:43 pm

snoqueen wrote:Edgewater is limited to serving University functions that can't be handled by the two little hotels closer to campus and the guest rooms that are part of various campus facilities.

No, it's not. I know you don't like the project, but this and the "no benefits" claim seem out of character.

Even the current down-at-the-heels Edgewater attracts conventiongoers (I'm not speculating—I was at a trade show at the Terrace earlier this summer and talked to several attendees staying there), not to mention travelers who have nothing to do with the convention center, or the UW for that matter. (Again, not speculating—I've got the memory of mediocre wedding and bat mitzvah food to prove it.)
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Detritus » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:47 pm

snoqueen wrote:Edgewater is limited to serving University functions that can't be handled by the two little hotels closer to campus and the guest rooms that are part of various campus facilities.

Actually, there are four little hotels closer to campus (five with the Red), not to mention the Lowell Center, the Fluno Center, and now Union South. Also the boutique Hyatt on West Wash. I think sno is right, though, that's a major market for the Edgewater, and although that may be a steady market, I don't think it's wildly lucrative, given that the state rate is something like $70 a night.

I would readily call the property "blighted," though. Definitely my last choice for putting someone downtown. Maybe the city should just condemn it and use the TIF money to fix it up ourselves.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:25 pm

Summer conventioneers might stay at the Edgewater. But for conventions held in Winter, not so much.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby TAsunder » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:40 pm

Didn't the concourse just do a major remodel?
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby Huckleby » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:49 pm

Maybe there are other renovations that you might prefer over the Edgewater, but the fact is that there is a large amount of private money ready to go for that project. The interest is there, the iron is hot.

I respect differing opinions on the value of the Edgewater project. I have some trouble with some of the false choices presented, rejecting this project is unlikely to open-up other opportunities. Money is very tight.
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Re: Isthmus on Edgewater

Postby snoqueen » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:50 pm

I appreciate the more complete list of downtown-campus lodgings -- I knew I was missing more than a few. It supports my point that Edgewater as it stands has a lot of serious competition for its University-event guests.

The newer rooms of the Edgewater -- the one in the 70's addition Dunn wants to cut the top off of -- are halfway decent. The ones in the original tower part are definitely shabby. I don't even know if they rent them out at all except during overflow events. Those old rooms are uncomfortable in the winter, incidentally -- the old windows leak lake winds like crazy, the heat isn't all that good and I don't think there's any insulation at all.

So there are two different Edgewaters, in a way. One might be competitive with other downtown hotels and the other really isn't, wistfully historic or not. I'd support an effort to renovate the old tower in an architecturally consistent manner, as a compromise. Maybe it could be a boutique hotel with some early-20th-century appeal, done right.

Can we split the difference and put some money today toward fixing the old tower? It could be a test case for more money later on toward a new part if the renovation is successful and its management shows competence. Maybe the charm of being on the lake in a historic building overcomes inconvenient location for certain potential guests.

If nothing is done the old portion definitely won't be usable ten years from now.
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