SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to facilitate the private development of a long-sought convention hotel adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center was approved 53-21 by the House on Tuesday.
HB356, sponsored by Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, offers private developers a tax rebate incentive for building a convention hotel with 1,000 rooms and up to 100,000 square feet of meeting space.
Supporters say the hotel is necessary to keep Salt Lake City competitive with other convention cities and would add to the $7.5 billion the tourism and convention industry contribute annually to Utah's economy.
Wilson said the city would gain much-needed convention space at no risk to taxpayers because the financial incentive for developers to build is performance-based.
He said the bill is improved from last year's failed attempt to gain support for the convention hotel because it includes a capped incentive that would be used only for the meeting space and infrastructure, not hotel rooms.
The bill also provides that convention visitors would receive a bounce-back voucher that would encourage them to visit longer or come back to Utah and stay at a different hotel.
The mitigation fund allows competing hotels to seek compensation if their business suffers. But Wilson said other cities that have built convention hotels have absorbed the additional rooms and created new demand within a few years.
— Madeleine Brown