Austin American Statesman
Here is a post (since I didn’t have to write it). A certain pastor is quoted. Check it out.
$21 million San Marcos conference center is dusty but almost ready
The city-owned center is attached to Embassy Suites, also under construction, and will be managed by a private partner.
By Andrea Lorenz
Saturday, June 28, 2008
SAN MARCOS — Construction dust covers the unfinished floors of the city’s new conference center, a $21 million investment-in-progress.
But even with its chandeliers stuffed in crates and its junior ballroom steeped in the smell of freshly stained wood, the San Marcos Conference Center and the adjacent Embassy Suites have already booked $1.2 million in business.
The city sold $22.5 million in bonds that did not require voter approval to build and finance the center. The debt will be repaid using a combination of revenue from sales, hotel and property taxes solely from the 15-acre development.
In exchange for managing the hotel and paying for construction costs that exceed $20 million, John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts LLC will keep any direct profits.
City officials said they hope the center will boost tourism and spur development along Interstate 35.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to put San Marcos more on the map and get people here and spending their money in our town,” Council Member Kim Porterfield said.
The city signed the agreement, which will last until 2032, with Missouri-based Hammons in 2005.
Robin Steele, the pastor of Promiseland Church San Marcos, toured the site Wednesday with other community leaders and potential customers. Steele said he liked what he saw. “We’re excited that we have a chance to have a four-star hotel here in San Marcos and not have to go to San Antonio or Austin.”
Forty-five groups —including the International Travel Managers Institute, a tour operator training group, and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority of Texas State University — have booked space at the center, set to open in October.
Ruth Buck, the sales director of Embassy Suites San Marcos, said her staff is working on additional bookings worth $4.5 million. A big draw, she said, is the nearby shopping outlet center, which she said is the third most-visited destination in Texas. Buck said 30 percent of visitors are from Mexico.
The company is working with its national sales office in Mexico City and will probably advertise the San Marcos conference center in Mexican publications, Buck said. “The Mexican market is going to be very important to us.”
Former San Marcos Mayor Kathy Morris, who helped bring the Prime and Tanger outlets to the area, said after a hard-hat tour that the city would benefit economically from the center as it did with the malls.
“I think this is an outstanding addition to the city of San Marcos,” Morris said.
About the venue
Jobs created:200 to 250
Cost to city:$22.5 million
Cost to partner, John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts LLC: $50 million
Meeting rooms: 19 in 50,000 square feet
Amenities:Cafe, spa, fitness center, heated outdoor pool, free shuttles to the Prime and Tanger outlet malls
Booked groups so far: 45, worth $1.2 million in sales
Worth noting:The 10-story hotel is the tallest building in San Marcos not on the Texas State University campus.
Source: City of San Marcos, Embassy Suites San Marcos
firstname.lastname@example.org; (512) 392-8750