Council Member Betsy Hodges said she would not back a publically subsidized 1,000-room Convention Center hotel at a news conference Friday, in a veiled attack on mayoral campaign rival Mark Andrew, who has expressed support for the idea in recent months.
Hodges, who often criticizes Andrew indirectly, did not name Andrew until pressed by reporters.
The council member said such a project would hurt not only city taxpayers, but other hotel owners, and would flood the market with empty rooms. She suggested finding ways to have the private market build a 500-room hotel and work with existing hotel owners to expand their facilities as needed.
During an August campaign forum, Andrew caused a stir when he accused Hodges of having “the disease of small vision” when she voiced opposition to the project. He said he would push for the development to bring in more tourists and increase the city’s competitiveness.
"I am not interested in subsidizing corporations or corporate welfare, but I am interested in smart investments that grow our city,” Andrew said then. "When investing public dollars in any project we need to make sure there are significant public benefits, including job creation and workforce training opportunities for city residents. In the case of the Convention Center hotel, the devil is in the details.”
Asked why she held a news conference on the matter now, rather than two months ago, Hodges said “right now people are making a decision about who they’re going to support" and that the issue was about how to grow the city. She said it is illustrative of the differences among the candidates.
Hodges also took a subtle shot at mayoral candidate Jackie Cherryhomes by asking whether they would go back to the days of public subsidies for Block E, which Cherryhomes supported as City Council president in the 1990s – but never named her, either.