Only one bid for massive convention center hotel

Posted at 4:41 PM, Oct 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-27 19:41:27-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Only one company bid to build a massive convention center hotel next to the Salt Palace.

The Salt Lake County Mayor's Office said Monday that Omni Hotels, the Dallas-based luxury hotel chain, submitted the lone bid for an 800-to-1,000 room hotel with convention center space. The project is expected to cost as much as $300 million.

Still, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said he was not worried.

"The players, all of the players of the marketplace looked very closely at our deal," the mayor told FOX 13. "They ultimately concluded they couldn't make it pencil. Omni thinks they can make it pencil, so we're encouraged."

The requirements for the project were a bit unusual: the builder had to find and purchase the downtown real-estate for the project and Salt Lake County required it to be within 1,000 feet of the Salt Palace. The county insisted taxpayers would not be on the hook, claiming tax breaks would come after the hotel was built.

The Utah Taxpayers Association said the sole bidder was a "red flag."

"We think they need to go back, reevaluate, open up the process and take a bid again," said Billy Hesterman, the organization's vice-president. "See if we can get more interest to protect the taxpayer. We need more than just one bid to make sure this is the right thing for the county to do."

A committee will now have to go through Omni Hotels' bid. If it fails to meet the requirements, McAdams said the county may have to re-work its proposal and open the bid process up again.

Salt Lake County's mayor has lobbied hard for the convention center hotel. The mayor's office has claimed more than a dozen major conventions have been lost without the space. Both Outdoor Retailer's and Salt Lake Comic Con have backed the project.