Watchdog group in New Orleans calls for pause of Convention Center hotel project
By Greg LaRose
April 9, 2020
A new 1,200-room hotel at the Morial Convention Center downtown is a risky proposal now that the coronavirus has disrupted New Orleans’ tourism industry and its major business meeting schedule.
That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Bureau of Governmental Research.
The watchdog group has been critical of the project in the past because of its heavy reliance on public subsidies. It estimates some $800 million in taxpayer support will be needed over 40 years in order to build the hotel adjacent to the riverfront facility.
BGR also points out the new hotel would draw guests from competing hotels, which must pay local taxes on the revenues they make from those overnight stays. But the Morial Convention Center would get a tax rebate from those room nights as part of a tentative financing package under consideration.
The BGR report recommends pausing the project and conducting a feasibility study once the pandemic has passed.
WDSU has reached out to convention center officials for their response to the report. The facility is now being used as a medical facility for coronavirus patients who have been released from hospitals but aren’t able to return home.
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