At a recent presentation by Wichita’s downtown revitalization planning firm Goody Clancy, data was presented that is at odds with the city’s plans.
Goody Clancy consultants presented data showing that downtown Wichita hotels are doing better than hotels in the entire Wichita market. Data from the charts shows that Wichita market hotels command an average daily rate of about $78. The rate for downtown hotels is about $110.
Occupancy rates tell a similar story. For all Wichita hotels the occupancy rate is about 65%, while for downtown hotels the rate is 70%.
According to Goody Clancy consultant Sarah Woodworth, when occupancy rates are at 65% or higher, the area is ready for new hotel rooms. So it seems that more hotels are needed in downtown Wichita, and that new hotels could be profitable.
But we’re getting a different story from Wichita’s bureaucratic class. According to them, a proposed Fairfield Inn in the downtown WaterWalk development is not feasible unless the city supplies some $3 million in subsidy to the developer.
This is according to Wichita Urban Development chief Allen Bell, who says there is a “gap” in the business plan for the proposed hotel. Unless the city steps in and fills the gap, the hotel won’t be built, according to Bell.
The figures that show the gap, however, are provided by someone who has a multi-million dollar motive to create a gap. Bell says his office checks the arithmetic on these figures, but that doesn’t count for due diligence, especially with the city’s recent history of overlooking important facts about proposed projects.
Here’s the real question: with the city’s planning firm saying the downtown Wichita hotel market is strong with the market clamoring for new rooms, why does the city say a new hotel can’t be built without subsidy?