Convention hotel bill passes Utah Legislature

Published: Wednesday, March 12 2014 5:40 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake City

Ravell Call, Deseret News Archives

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SALT LAKE CITY — A convention hotel in downtown Salt Lake City became closer to reality Wednesday after the Utah Legislature passed a substitute version of HB356.

Under the bill, the privately developed hotel would include public meeting space. The developer would be repaid for fronting the construction of the meeting space with sales tax rebates if the facility meets certain performance benchmarks.

The developer would receive tax rebates capped at $75 million over 20 years.

The bill also creates a mitigation fund for other hoteliers that are negatively impacted by the 850- to 1,000-room hotel to be built adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center. The fund would be initially funded at $2 million.

A portion of new revenue generated by the hotel will fund statewide tourism efforts to encourage convention-goers to extend their stays in Utah to visit other parts of the state or return as tourists.

Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, the Senate sponsor of the legislation, said many parties came together to craft the bill.

The result should be an economic boon to the entire state “both directly and indirectly," Adams said.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, passed the Senate on Wednesday morning, and the House concurred with its amendments late Wednesday afternoon.

Tourism and Salt Lake County officials say a convention hotel is needed to help Salt Lake City better compete for convention business.

Owners of existing hotels have said they did not receive government subsidies to blunt their construction costs and have balked at the proposal, saying it creates an unfair advantage for the owners and operators of the convention hotel. Backers said the mitigation fund would help allay those concerns.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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