Several new hotels planned for downtown

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A half a dozen new hotels in the Queen City could add 30% more available rooms to downtown Cincinnati.

According to Julie Calvert with the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau, until the 21c Museum Hotel came along, downtown had not welcomed a new hotel since 1984. Now, over a thousand new rooms could soon be just a reservation away.

The Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau works year round to help fill Cincinnati hotels. The latest numbers though May show a 55.3% occupancy rate downtown. Because that number is an average, Calvert says some hotels experience much higher rates.

"The more supply you put in the market, the more we need to work together, and closely with our hotels with convention planners to create that demand for these hotels," she told FOX19.

Currently there are about 3,000 rooms downtown Cincinnati. The new hotels planned throughout downtown, including in the Enquirer building and the old SCPA space, would add 1,040 more rooms.

Plans for the Banks project as well as the Anna Louise Inn have both included discussions of a hotel.

"Just because a new hotel opens doesn't means another hotel has to suffer," Calvert argued. "All boats will rise because we have the right strategies, the right groups in town, the right marketing strategies to make sure everybody's full."

"I'd much rather have the problem, if it's a problem, going on today than five or ten years ago," Garfield Suites Hotel GM Gary Wachs told FOX19. "It's a much better opportunity today than it used to be."

A lifelong Cincinnatian, Wachs says he has never before seen the kind of growth that has been happening downtown.

"The pie is bigger so we're all sharing in that pie," he said. "It's just going to get bigger and better."

Wachs says more hotels raises the bar for the ones already here, which translates to renovations.

"We have plans to do that anyway but there's no question it does," he told FOX19.

The city chipped in $1.55 million for the Hyatt hotel's top to bottom overhaul and other new projects include various city incentives.

While he says in a free market some businesses will succeed and others will fail, Jeff Rexhausen at the UC Economic Center says when it comes to subsidies it is important to be critical of each individual project being considered.

"What we want to make sure of if we're talking about a subsidy is that we are not causing other businesses to fail unnecessarily," he said.

Rexhausen says to some degree supply can be used generate demand, however.

"If in fact we can get more convention business by increasing our supply of hotel rooms and that makes it a better argument for the Convention and Visitors Bureau to make then the existing hotels are going to benefit from that along with the new ones," he explained.

Rexhausen says it is not necessarily the number of hotels that dictates market saturation, but says location and type must also be taken into consideration.

Calvert tells FOX19 Cincinnati won the 2015 All-Star game with the number of rooms already available.

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