By a vote of 5-1, the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission on Wednesday approved a resolution supporting the idea of Pine Bluff Urban Renewal buying the Plaza Hotel attached to the convention center, then transferring the property to Civic Auditorium Commission.
Joseph McCorvey, executive director of the Pine Bluff Convention Center said plans for the creation of a hotel and convention center complex are moving forward and the next step is to get the hotel appraised.
Both resolutions, one adopted by the Civic Auditorium Commissi0n and the one approved Wednesday by the Advertising and Promotion Commission said the condition of the Plaza Hotel and Suites “harms the recruitment of conventions and entertainment that will have a significant economic impact on the city of Pine Bluff.”
“It was obvious that the current owner was not going to do anything with it,”McCorvey said about the hotel, which has been closed for an extended period of time.
The resolution that Advertising and Promotion agreed to supports the establishment of as convention center and hotel complex; will support the design and cost estimate phase; contingent upon the renovation costs will consider allocating a portion of the so-called hamburger tax to satisfy debt service and if the hotel’s profit exceeds the debt service requirement, the Advertising and Promotion Commission will be relieved of any financial responsibility associated with the hotel.
McCorvey has previously said that renovations to the five-story, 200-room hotel are expected to cost about $12 million and renovations are expected to take 16 months, which will come after a six-month period devoted to developing construction documents and acquiring the necessary permits, meaning that the renovated hotel would open in approximately September 2021.
Also, McCorvey said during that time, the Civic Auditorium Commission will ask for proposals from hotel management companies interested in operating the renovated facility as a Hilton or Marriott.
“We’ve got to get a major national flag on it,” McCorvey said. “Without it, the convention center would just be at a standstill.”
While all that is going on, McCorvey said upgrades at the convention center will continue, explaining that the Advertising and Promotion Commission had given the convention center $50,000 to upgrade the lighting system and convert to LED lighting.
“That’s going to save us on our electric bill,” he said. “When the hotel is ready, we want the convention center ready as well.”