By William Fraser, City Manager – April 7, 2021
The proposed 80-room Hampton Inn and 345-space parking garage located mostly on Capitol Plaza property has been sidelined primarily because of litigation delays as well as COVID-related economic concerns, according to an April 7 statement by Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser.
Hilton, the hotel chain which includes Hampton Inn, decided to withdraw its sponsorship because of the uncertain time frame and expenses related to the appeal process. Fraser discussed the financial and other consequences:
- City taxpayers will need to repay approximately $1.25 million in bond costs for project expenses to date. This money would have come from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the new hotel and parking revenues from garage use had the project been completed. The total expenses include design and engineering, permit applications, environmental testing, as well as legal. This projects to slightly more than $70,000 annually in bond payments over 20 years.
- The city will not receive approximately $170,000 in building permit fee revenue from the hotel and garage.Story continues below
- The city will not receive the estimated $30,000 to $50,000 annually in room taxes from the new hotel. We will also not receive any additional annual meals and alcohol taxes generated from visitors staying at the hotel.
- Local businesses will not realize additional sales from hotel guests or visitors who seek convenient parking.
Fraser also noted:
- 160 net new parking spaces and 80 new hotel rooms in downtown are lost.
- The loss of the opportunity to retire the aging high-pressure waterline under the garage building and North Branch (which is the reason the city can’t remove the coffer dam under the new bike path bridge). This was going to happen as part of the hotel/garage project and had received a project-related grant to help finance it.
- 20 new electric vehicle charging stations were to be built in the new garage using grant funding. Additionally, the garage was designed to allow for EV stations at all 345 spaces in the future.
- There will be no direct connection from State Street to the new Bike Path. Access will remain as it is currently, only from Main Street or Taylor Street.
- Environmental brownfields exist in the present involved parking lots. These would have been remediated as part of the project.
- There is currently no stormwater treatment from the existing surface parking lots. The project would have installed a state of the art treatment system to improve river water quality.
The city has held preliminary discussions regarding downtown development and investment opportunities. The status of these potential projects is now unknown due to loss of parking.
Christ Church has been considering a 30-unit affordable housing project which was using the new garage to meet parking requirements — necessary for both tenants and for obtaining financing. The impact of this decision on the potential housing is unknown.
Republished in abbreviated form and with edits from City-sponsored column in The Bridge (Montpelier) community newspaper.