Opinion

Poll: Should the City help finance the new Old Town hotel development

Heron, a proposed hotel development at 699 Prince Street, image via Monarch Urban

Alexandria has been bleeding hotels and local economic and tourism experts said if Alexandria wants to fully capitalize on a post-COVID tourism boom, it needs to pitch in on a new hotel.

At a meeting last week, the City Council expressed cautious enthusiasm about a proposal that Alexandria put a little of its tax revenue from the hotel back into the developer’s coffers. The proposal involves offering incentives to help finance the development of a luxury hotel at 699 Prince Street.

AEDP CEO Stephanie Landrum said the financing structure being proposed limits the risk involved for the city. The city, through AEDP, would pay bond trustees out of a 1% cut of the sales and use tax generated by the hotel after the project is complete and begins to generate revenue. The project is estimated to generate roughly $2 million annually in revenue, which Landrum said was a “significant amount of money” for the city to come from one project.

But there are still concerns about the city being involved in financing a private hotel development. The City Council wasn’t opposed to the project overall on first reading, but Alyia Gaskins said the city should put in work to ensure laborers at the project are paid fairly and treated equitably.

The project is scheduled for final review at a public hearing on Saturday, Jan. 22.