At Issue #2634 “Managing Change at the Pere Marquette Hotel”

WELCOME TO AT ISSUE A SPECIAL SUMMER EDITION OF “AT ISSUE” BECAUSE WE HAVE AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TOPIC TO TALK.


WELCOME TO AT ISSUE A SPECIAL SUMMER EDITION OF “AT ISSUE” BECAUSE WE HAVE AN EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TOPIC TO TALK ABOUT, AND THAT IS CHANGES AT THE PERE MARQUETTE AND COURTYARD HOTELS, MANAGEMENT CHANGES, AND THE COURTYARD JUST OPENED. AND GARY MATTHEWS HAS AGREED TO TALK TO US ALONG WITH TWO OTHER INDIVIDUALS DIRECTLY INVOLVED WITH THAT. LET ME INTRODUCE TO YOU, CITY MANAGER OF THE CITY OF PEORIA, PATRICK URICH.>>HI, H, THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.>>MY LEFT, YOUR RIGHT, AS WE SPEAK, GARY MATTHEWS. GARY IS THE PRESIDENT OF EM PROPERTIES. THANK YOU FOR BEING ON THE PROGRAM. YOU WERE HERE TWO YEARS AGO WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED THIS PROJECT.>>THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.>>JOE LOMONACO. JOE IS MANAGING DIRECTOR OF BOTH THE PERE MARQUETTE AND COURTYARD, AND YOU MOST RECENTLY WERE IN OKLAHOMA CITY. WE WILL TALK ABOUT THAT LATER ON. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.>>THANKS FOR HAVING ME.>>THOSE OF YOU SAYING OKLAHOMA CITY, YES, HE WAS THE GENERAL MANAGER OF EMBASSY SUITES PRIOR TO MOVING TO OKLAHOMA CITY.>>GLAD TO BE BACK.>>LET’S START. HOW ARE THINGS? YOU HAVE BEEN OPEN TWO AND HAD A HALF WEEKS, SOMETHING LIKE THAT, THE CORE YARD, 15 MONTHS AT THE PERE, HOW ARE YOU DOING?>>SO FAR SO GOOD. I HAVE MY DREAM TEAM NOW, H. I EXPECT GREAT THINGS TO HAPPEN.>>SO FAR SO GOOD MEANS WHAT?>>WELL, ANY TIME YOU OPEN A HOTEL, LET ALONE A HOTEL LINKED TO ANOTHER HOTEL THAT HAS BEEN OPEN, YOU CERTAINLY SHOULD CONSIDER THERE IS GOING TO BE SOME GLITCHES. WE HAVE HAD A FEW, BUT NONE OF THEM TOO SERIOUS. I AM QUITE PLEASED, AND SO FAR ON WHERE WE ARE.>>WHERE ARE WE IN TERMS OF BOOKING? BECAUSE FROM THE START, WE WANTED– “WE” THE CITY, THE CITY’S INVESTMENT AND GARY WANTED THIS TO BE AN INVESTMENT FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE CIVIC CENTER AS WELL AS THE HOTELS. WHERE ARE WE WITH REGARD TO CONVENTIONS?>>WE ARE GOING THROUGH WHAT WAS PUT ON THE BOOKS BY THE PREVIOUS COMPANY, MARRIOTT. SO WE NEED TO FINALIZE WHAT THEY HAVE IN THEIR RESERVATIONS SYSTEMS, WHAT THEY HAD ON THE BOOKS. AS WE GET THROUGH THAT, WE ARE ALMOST DONE, WE ARE GETTING A FEEL FOR WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN SIGNED, CONTRACTUALLY WHICH THEN ALLOWS US TO LOOK AT OUR INVENTORY AS WELL AS THE SPACE AND TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THAT.>>>DO YOU HAVE CONVENTIONS? HOW FULL IS THE HOTEL AND CIVIC CENTER GOING TO BE?>>SURE. THE GOAL FOR THE HOTEL WILL BE IN HIGH 70’S, LOW 80S, ONCE WE GET MOVING WITH EVERYTHING. WE HAVE SOME CONVENTIONS COMING IN, IN AUGUST WHICH WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT. WE WILL BE WORKING WITH THE CIVIC CENTER. IT IS A DAILY EFFORT, SALES TEAM GETS TOGETHER, CATERING GETS TOGETHER. WE VISIT WHO WE NEED TO VISIT AND LOOK FOR.>>WHEN YOU SAY 70%, YOU ARE REFERRING TO OCCUPANCY.>>OCCUPANCY, WE WILL BE SOLD OUT, TUESDAYS, WEDNESDAYS, MONDAYS. WEEKENDS, WE WILL FLUCTUATE. BY THE END OF THE MONTH, HIGH 70’S, LOW 80S.>>IS THAT PROFITABLE?>>IT IS PROFITABLE, BUT I’D LIKE MORE. THAT’S THE ONE THING ABOUT WHEN YOU ARE VERY CONFIDENT IN YOUR BRAND, YOU ARE VERY CONFIDENT IN YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM WHICH I AM NOW, I HAVE VERY HIGH EXPECTATIONS. BUT YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND THAT WHEN THERE IS AN EVENT OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT CREATES ANY OTHER BUSINESS FOR ROOMS AND THAT, IT TAKES AWHILE TO GET IT ON THE BOOKS. I MEAN NOBODY PLANS AND EVENT A WEEK FROM NOW. THEY PLAN IT SIX MONTHS, A YEAR, WHATEVER, YOU KNOW, THE NEED IS. YEAH, I THINK WE HAVE GOT A GOOD STARTING AND I THINK WE HAVE A GOOD FUTURE. SEVERAL WEEKS AGO YOU STOOD BEFORE COUNCIL AND SAID WANT YOU TO APPROVE THE CHANGE IN MANAGEMENT TEAM. YOU HAD HAD AN AGREEMENT WITH MARRIOTT CORPORATION. YOU WANTED TO SWITCH TO FIRST HOSPITALITY GROUP. THAT MEANT CITY COUNCIL APPROVAL. FIRST, WHY THE CHANGES TO FHG?>>THEY HAVE GOOD RECORD ON AREAS LIKE PEORIA. THEY HAVE VERY GOOD RECORD WITH THEIR BRANDS, MARRIOTT, HILTON, ALL THE OTHERS. I RESEARCHED MANY OTHERS. AND NARROWED IT DOWN TO FHG BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT EXACTLY LOCAL, BUT THEY ARE IN CHICAGO WHICH IS NOT TOO FAR AWAY, WITH US A PLUS FOR ME. I NARROWED IT DOWN TO THE PRINCIPLES THAT I TALK WITH, WITH OWNING THE COMPANY, THEIR PHILOSOPHY ON HOW A HOTEL COMPLEX LIKE THIS SHOULD COME ABOUT, AND THEY ALSO LISTENED TO MY IDEAS. THEY ALMOST IMPLEMENTED JUST ABOUT ALL OF THEM. THAT’S WHAT I WAS IN FAVOR OF.>>THEY ARE BASED IN SUBURBAN CHICAGO, ROSEMONT, I BELIEVE.>>CORRECT.>>AND SO YOU MENTIONED PROXIMITY, THEY ARE LOCAL, RELATIVE TO MARRIOTT WHICH IS WASHINGTON D.C. BASED, BUT, YET, YOU HAVE A HOTEL ACROSS THE RIVER, FAIRFIELD IN EAST PEORIA. CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA BASED THAT’S FURTHER AWAY FROM D.C.>>CONCORD IS A MUCH LARGER COMPANY, THAT’S TRUE. LARGER DOESN’T MAKE THEM BETTER THOUGH. THE OTHER THING IS THE FAIRFIELD I HAVE IN EAST PEORIA IS A SPECIAL SERVICE. IT DOESN’T HAVE THE SAME COMPONENTS THAT WE NEED IN THIS PROJECT. IT DOESN’T HAVE PRIVATE EVENTS. IT IS JUST ROOM REVENUE. THAT’S IT. SO I AM NOT SAYING CONCORD DOESN’T DO FULL SERVICE. IT IS JUST THAT I THOUGHT FHG REALLY LOOKED A LOT BETTERS IN THE AREAS THAT I WAS LOOKING IN.>>WHAT WAS YOUR TAKE, PATRICK, WITH REGARD TO HIS PRESENTATION BEFORE THE COUNCIL ASKING FOR CHANGE IN MANAGEMENT, KNOWING THAT THE CITY HAS $7MILLION LOAN AND HOW MUCH, 28.>>WE ISSUED $29MILLION IN A PROJECT GRANT THAT WAS PART OF THE PROJECT. THE CITY’S COMMITMENT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING WAS TO TRY TO MAKE SURE WE FULFILLED THE GOAL OF CIVIC CENTER AUTHORITIES AND CITY IN THE PAST WHICH WAS TO HAVE A CONNECTED CIVIC CENTER, HOTEL, CONFERENCE HOTEL TIED TO THE CIVIC CENTER BE AND WE HAVE ACHIEVED THAT. SO WE MADE A SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT. IT IS GREAT TO HEAR THAT JOE’S TARGET IS THE HIGH 70S, LOW 80S, BECAUSE THAT’S MEANS THE BONDS WOULD GET REPAID. WE PREDICATED IT ON NUMBERS, AND THAT’S GREAT TO HEAR. THE IMPORTANCE THAT I THINK THAT MR.MATTHEWS JUST MENTIONED ABOUT THE MANAGEMENT CHANGE IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A FIRM THAT KNOWS THE LOCAL MARKET, WITH JOE HAVING THE BACKGROUND BEING HERE IN THE MARKET IS INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO KNOW HOW TO WORK IN PEORIA. I THINK THAT WE DID TAKE SOME TIME, COUNSELED DEFERRED TAKING ANY ACTION UNTIL WE KNEW THE OTHER LENDERS WERE READY TO GO WITH THE CHANGE, AND THEY HAD APPROVED T WE WERE THE LAST ONE IN. WE MADE THAT A CONSCIOUS DECISION. WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE ELSE THAT DOES ON A REGULAR BASIS MANAGING REAL ESTATE WAS DOING THAT. IT WORKED OUT REALLY WELL FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE. GARY CAME TO THE YOU HAD MEETING AND DID A– NICE JOB OF PRESENTING THE ISSUES AND ANSWERING QUESTIONS FOR COUNCIL. WE HAD MEETINGS WITH INDIVIDUAL COUNCIL MEMBERS WHERE WE TALKED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MANAGEMENT CHANGE. AND I THINK THAT WE BUILT IN SOME CONDITIONS THAT WILL BE PRIVY FOR EVERYONE THAT’S INVOLVED AND WILL HELP US AS WE LOOK AT THE PROJECT GOING FORWARD.>>FOR INSTANCE, CONDITION LIKE?>>THERE WERE SEVERAL. I THINK WE HAD SIX CONDITIONS WE PUT ON THAT INCLUDED NO DISTRIBUTION TO ANY OF THE MEMBER COMPANIES WHILE THE MORTGAGE THAT WE HAVE. WE HAVE A $7MILLION MORTGAGE THAT IS OUTSTANDING. NO FEES PAID OUT TO ANY OF THOSE FIRMS WITHOUT OUR APPROVAL. THERE WILL BE MONTHLY FINANCIAL REPORTS DISTRIBUTED WITH IN THAT THEY WILL SHARE THE BUSINESS PLAN WITH US GOING FORWARD SO WE CAN SEE THAT. THOSE WERE THE KIND OF CONDITIONS THAT WE PUT IN PLACE. THEY ARE REASONABLE CONDITIONS ANY OTHER LENDER MIGHT REQUEST OF A BORROWER, AND WE ARE VERY PLEASED THAT THE PROJECT IS NOW THAT THE COURTYARD IS OPEN WAS OUR PRIMARY GOAL. CITY REALLY, AS WE TALKED ABOUT IT WITH THE COUNCIL, WE MADE THE RECOMMENDATION WITH FOUR PRIMARY GOALS IN MIND. ONE, WE HAVE BOTH HOTELS OPEN. TWO, WE HAVE A SOLID MANAGEMENT TEAM IN PLACE. WE FELT VERY CONFIDENT THAT FHG IS SOLID MANAGEMENT COMPANY. WE PUT IN REASONABLE CONTROLS GOING FORWARD, AND, FOUR, THAT WE PRESERVE OUR RIGHT AS A LENDER. AS A LENDER. WE FEEL THAT WE ARE. WE ARE VERY PLEASED WITH THAT.>>JOE EARLIER MENTIONED DREAM TEAM. I AM GOING TO SAY GREEN TEAM, NOT FROM MANAGEMENT POINT OF VIEW, BUT FROM STAFF. THAT COURTYARD HAS A LOT OF INEXPERIENCE WITH IT. HOW WILL YOU OVER COME THAT?>>WE HAVE SHARED SERVICE. BOTH HOTELS WILL SHARE THE SAME MANAGEMENT TEAM. ALTHOUGH IT IS GREEN, AS YOU SAY, IT IS A TEAM OF HIGHLY EXPERIENCED MANAGERS WITH 30 PLUS YEARS EXPERIENCE. MYSELF, MARY JO, JOHN, WITH FHG’S HELP. JEFF McCLINTOK, A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE WITH EXPERIENCE. WE ARE NOT AS GREEN AS YOU THINK OF.>>THAT’S WHAT I AM REFERRING TO, BISTRO.>>IT IS A GREAT EATERY. WE LOVE THE BISTRO.>>BUT EVERYONE IS GREEN. AT SOME POINT EVERYBODY HAS TO START SOMEWHERE. WITH THE MANAGEMENT AND LEVEL OF YEARS OF SERVICE THAT WE HAVE, WE CAN HELP GUIDE THEM THROUGH THAT PROCESS. THEY WILL DO VERY WELL. THE BISTRO IS FANTASTIC, AND EVERYONE SHOULD COME SEE IT.>>DID YOU WANT TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT TABLE 19! (LAUGHING).>>I WAS GOING TO SAY! (LAUGHING).>>LET’S TALK ABOUT THE PARKING DECK. THE CARS, IT WAS THE FIRST TIME TO OPEN, YOU HAVE GOT THE CONNECTOR NOW TO THE CIVIC CENTER, BUT THAT FIRST FLOOR OF THE PARKING DECK SITS EMPTY. THERE IS A RUMOR THAT PIZZA PLACE WANTS TO COME IN THERE. WHEN IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN?>>WELL, I AM ASKED THOSE QUESTIONS ALL THE TIME IN DEVELOPMENT. I NEVER GIVE DATES OR TIMES BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER ISSUES THAT COME ABOUT THAT YOU DON’T EXPECT THEM TO HAPPEN. I’D LIKE TO SEE IT COME ABOUT VERY SOON. I AM VERY, VERY ENCOURAGED WITH THE RESPONSE THAT WE HAD SO FAR. FOR SOLICITATIONS FOR LEASING IN THERE. IT JUST TAKES TIME, AND IT TAKES TIME TO GET THE ECONOMICS WORKED OUT, WHAT THE COST OF THE CONSTRUCTION IS GOING TO BE. I WOULD JUST– I WOULD SAY IF I HAD MY WISH, IT WOULD BE EARLY NEXT YEAR. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN EARLY NEXT YEAR THAT NECESSARILY WE OPEN. THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF CONSTRUCTION INVOLVED IN THAT AREA BECAUSE–>>THIS IS A SHELL RIGHT NOW.>>IT IS JUST A SHELL RIGHT NOW, EXACTLY.>>CAN YOU SHARE WHO IT MIGHT BE?>>NO.>>LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY. THE NEWSPAPER HAD THREE OF THE MORTON COMMUNITY BANK HAS GONE TO COURT ON THREE DIFFERENT OCCASIONS. I BELIEVE THE MONEY WAS TEN MILLION DOLLARS TOTAL ON PROPERTIES, NOT HOTEL PROPERTIES, BUT PROPERTIES IN TAZEWELL COUNTY, MIGHT THAT IMPACT THE OPERATION OF THE PERE AND COURTYARD?>>NO.>>ARE THERE ANY POSSIBILITIES OF ANY OTHER SUITS, FINANCIAL SUITS OF ANY KIND OF ANOTHER COUNTY OR TAZEWELL COUNTY THAT MIGHT IMPACT THE PERE?>>I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE COMMENTS WHAT COULD BE IN THE FUTURE. DEVELOPERS LIVE WITH THIS, AND I DON’T PUBLICLY GIVE NEWS OUT THAT, IN MY OPINION, IS NOT ACCURATE OR THAT IS HIGHLY SUSPECT. SO I HAVE NO COMMENTS ON THAT.>>OKAY. LET’S TALK ABOUT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CIVIC CENTER. I WANT– AS A PREFACE TO THAT, YOU WERE IN OKLAHOMA CITY?>>I WAS.>>YOU WORKED AT THE RENAISSANCE.>>I DID.>>CONNECTED TO THE CIVIC CENTER IN OKLAHOMA CITY.>>CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL CONNECTED TO THE CIVIC CENTER.>>SO YOU HAD A SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT, AND RATHER THAN ME TRY TO EXPLAIN IT. YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOUR STAFF SOLD A PORTION OF THE CIVIC CENTER FOR MEETINGS.>>CORRECT. WE HAD 20 YEAR CONTRACT WITH OKLAHOMA CITY TO MANAGE THE MEETING SPACE OF THE CIVIC CENTER. IT WAS 120,000 SQUARE FEET OF SPACE. THAT WAS JUST FOR BALLROOM PREFUNCTIONS, THINGS OF THAT NATURE. FACILITY HAS EXPO CENTER AS WELL AS AN ARENA. WE HAD THE ABILITY TO SELL INTO ALL OF THAT. WE HAD A 24 MONTH CYCLE WHICH MEANT WE COULD SELL INTO ANY OF THAT SPACE FOR 24 MONTHS. OUTSIDE OF 4 24 MONTHS, WE WOULD LOOK AT AND TALK ABOUT, AND IF THE COUNCIL WAS OKAY WITH IT, WE BOOKED. THERE WAS A SAFETY MECHANISM SO WE WOULDN’T FILL UP THE SPACE WITH PIECES OF BUSINESS DOWN THE ROAD THAT MIGHT NOT MAKE SENSE. SOMETIMES SALESPEOPLE GET AGGRESSIVE AND WANT TO JUST PUT SOMETHING IN THE SPACE. THAT ALLOWED US TO LOOK INTO EACH SPACE AND EVALUATE IT.>>GROUP WAS MANAGER OF THE ENTIRE FACILITY. THEY WERE IN CHARGE OF THE HVAC, CLEANLINESS, ANY OF THE MAINTENANCE, THINGS OF THAT NATURE. BUT WHAT SMG DOES AND DOES IT VERY WELL, WAS BOOKING ENTERTAINMENT AND THE SPORTS GROUPS.>>SO YOU– DIDN’T MANAGE, BUT YOU TOOK CARE OF MEETING SPACE FOR THEM. MIGHT THAT EXTEND– BOTH SMG, THEY HAVE EXPERIENCE, MIGHT THAT EXTEND TO PEORIA?>>IT IS COMMONPLACE THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, NOT JUST WITH OKLAHOMA CITY.>>YOU WILL FIND WITH CIVIC CENTERS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, CONVENTION HOTELS CONNECTED TO THOSE FACILITIES DO WORK IN TANDEM WITH SMG. AND THERE ARE MANY FACILITIES IN THE COUNTRY THAT RELATIONSHIP MIMICS WHAT WE DID IN OKLAHOMA CITY.>>IS THAT SOMETHING YOU MIGHT BE LOOKING AT IN HOPES THAT MIGHT HELP COORDINATE BUSINESS?>>YES. I THINK WE NEED TO GET AN AWFUL LOT OF OTHER THINGS STRAIGHTENED AROUND AND THE PROJECT THAT WE HAVE SO FAR. BUT I THINK IT IS A PRETTY INTERESTING CONCEPT. BUT IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHETHER IT WORKS FOR THE CITY, FOR THE CIVIC CENTER, ALL OF THOSE COMPONENTS. BUT IT DOES SOUND LIKE A VERY INTERESTING POSSIBILITY.>>YOU SAID THERE ARE A COUPLE OF THINGS YOU WANT TO GET STRAIGHT FIRST BEFORE YOU DID THAT. WHAT WERE THE THINGS YOU NEED– I KNOW YOU HAVE A BRAND NEW HOTEL, THE COURTYARD. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED?>>I WANT TO MAKE SURE– WE HAVE BEEN ONLY BEEN OPEN WEEK AND A HALF IN THE COURTYARD. I WANT TO MAKE SURE WE HON OR THE COMMITMENTS WE ALREADY HAVE ON THE BOOKS FOR ANY OF THE EVENTS, ANY OF THE PUBLIC EVENTS. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE ARE ON SCHEDULE FOR ALL OF THOSE. SO I HAVEN’T REALLY ENTERTAINED ANY OF THESE– IT CERTAINLY SOUNDS INTERESTING TO ME ACTUALLY WHEN I FIRST INTERVIEWED JOE, I ASKED HIM ABOUT THAT. IT DOES SOUND LIKE IT IS A POSSIBILITY, BUT ULTIMATELY IT WILL BE UP TO THE CITY AND SMG.>>WHAT IS THE CITY’S ROLE IN THAT?>>THAT’S MUSIC TO MY EARS. FOR MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL AND MEMBERS OF THE CIVIC CENTER AUTHORITY, THAT’S PROBABLY MUSIC TO THEIR EARS, TOO. WE HAVE BEEN HAVING NUMEROUS DISCUSSIONS OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS ABOUT THE ROLE OF THE CONVENTION AND VISITOR’S BUREAU, THE ROLE OF THE CIVIC CENTER BE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING SURE THAT CIVIC CENTER WAS BEING UTILIZED. IT CAN BE PROFITABLE AND BE OPEN A THIRD OF THE YEAR. AND THAT’S NOT IN THE INTEREST OF THE CITY, NOR IS IT IN THE INTEREST OF THE HOTEL, NOR IS IT IN THE INTEREST OF DOWNTOWN. I THINK THAT WHAT WE WANT TO SEE IN THE BUSINESSES THAT ARE DOWNTOWN, WHAT WE HAVE SAID AND WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS THAT WE WANT TO SEAT CIVIC CENTER IS BEING UTILIZED. AND IF THE TEAM AT THE MARRIOTT CAN HELP TO SELL THAT SPACE IN THE CIVIC CENTER, THAT’S INCREDIBLE. THAT’S GREAT.>>LET’S TALK ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN BECAUSE YOU– I SAY “YOU,” THE CITY HAS $36MILLION INVESTED. BUT YOU DID IT FOR A REASON. YOU WANTED TO MAKE SURE DOWNTOWN AS A WHOLE, AND THIS WAS THE LYNCH PIN, BUT THE DOWNTOWN AS A WHOLE IS VIBRANT. LET’S TALK ABOUT THE MADISON THEATER.>>YES, WE HAVE BEEN IN AN EXTENDED NEGOTIATION PERIOD CURRENTLY BETWEEN THE OWNERS OF THE MADISON THEATER AND THE DEVELOPMENT GROUP THAT CONSISTS OF JIM GRUBE AND KATIE KIM, AND THE GROUP WORKING TOGETHER TO LOOK AT REDEVELOP MANY PROPOSAL FOR THE MADISON THEATER BLOCK. SO THEY ARE IN DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE PRICE AND THE PURCHASE PRICE AND ACQUISITION, AND WE HAVE EXTENDED THAT ANOTHER PERIOD OF TIME. THE PROPOSAL WOULD BE MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT. IT IS PRETTY NEAT IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING AT TRYING TO INCORPORATE WITH STREET FRONT RETAIL AND RENOVATION OF THE THEATER ITSELF. AND IF WE CAN GET THAT ACCOMPLISHED, THAT CONNECTED TO THE RIGHT NEXT TO THE MARRIOTT HOTEL WOULD BE I CREDIBLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE. NOW TWO BLOCKS, NOW YOU ARE STARTING TO SEE THAT DEVELOPMENT IS SPREADING OUT. IT IS MOVING OUT BEYOND JUST THAT INITIAL INVESTMENT THE CITY MADE IN THE MARRIOTT BLOCK.>>IN THE PARKING LOT NEXT–>>PARKING LOT NEXT TO MADISON, VERTICAL CONSTRUCTION GOING UP THERE, A BUILDING GOING UP THERE. THE HOTEL THAT SOME WOULD SAY IS COMPETITION, IT IS CLOSED RIGHT NOW, FOUR POINTS BY SHERIDAN. YOU HOPE TO SEE THAT OPEN?>>YES, WE WOULD LIKE THAT OPEN. WE FEEL THEN WE WOULD HAVE ANOTHER CATEGORY OF EVENTS, CONVENTION, CONFERENCES IF WE HAD ADDITIONAL 300 ROOMS. WE WOULD VIEW THIS AS A POSITIVE DIRECTION FOR US AND OUR SUCCESS.>>IF YOU ARE GOING TO SELL AS A CONVENTION HOTEL, YOU WANT TO SELL CONVENTIONS INTO THAT CIVIC CENTER ALONG WITH CONVENTION VISITOR’S BUREAU, ETCETERA. YOU WANT TO SELL THAT, YOU REALLY NEED FOUR POINTS.>>WE NEED THE INVENTORY. IN ORDER FOR US TO COMPETE WITH QUAD CITIES, SPRINGFIELD, MARKETS LIKE THAT, WE NEED A THOUSAND ROOMS OR MORE TO BE ABLE TO USE CIVIC CENTER AS WELL AS INVENTORY AND TO BE COMPETITIVE WITHIN STATE. WE DO NEED THAT, YES.>>INSIDE ON THE FOUR POINTS?>>WE WILL BE MEETING WITH THE MANAGEMENT TEAM FROM THE FOUR POINTS NEXT WEEK. WE WILL BE HAVING THAT CONVERSATION WITH THEM. WE WILL BE DISCUSSING WHAT THEIR PLANS ARE. THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING ON ROOF, BEEN WORKING ON MECHANICAL SYSTEMS. THEY HAD ELEVATOR WORK THEY HAVE TO DO, AND THEY ARE TRYING TO TOUCH EVERY ROOM INSIDE THE HOTEL. THE PLANS THEY PUT TOGETHER THAT THEY HAVE SUBMITTED TO THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT LOOK GREAT. NOW IT IS JUST THE EXECUTION SIDE OF WORKING OFF THOSE PLANS AND MAKING SURE THEY GET IT DONE HOPEFULLY FAST.>>ANY TIMETABLE?>>THERE IS NO– I DON’T THINK THEY HAVE OFFICIALLY GIVEN US A TIMETABLE. I KNOW THEY HAVE A DATE LISTED ON THE HOTEL PROPERTY ITSELF. BUT I WOULD THINK EARLY 2015 WE WOULD BE LOOKING AT SOMETHING.>>BUSINESS, BUSINESS PERSON COMES IN BASICALLY MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. AS A MATTER OF FACT, YOU ARE ON THE COUNCIL FLOOR, YOUR HOTEL TELL IS FULL MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. IT IS A VERY GOOD HOTEL MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. IT IS A BUSINESS HOTEL TRAVELER SO TO SPEAK. BUT WE ALSO FEEL WE WILL HAVE THAT SAME FACTOR WITH THE MARRIOTT FULL SERVICE AND COURTYARD.>>HOW DO YOU BALANCE CONVENTION, AND– EVERY TIME THEY WANT TO STAY AT THE COURTYARD, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE IS A CONVENTION. WE DON’T GIVE ALL INVENTORY FOR THE GROUP. WE PUT ASIDE SO MANY FOR THE TRAVELER. 70% OF THE GROUP WOULD HAVE INVENTORY. 30% SAFE GUARDED FOR TRAVELERS COMMINUTE TO THE CITY EVERY WEEK. THEY WOULD HAVE SOMEWHERE TO GO. YOU DON’T WANT TO DISPLACE BUSINESS.>>IT IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR THE FOUR POINTS OPEN UP.>>EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR US TO HAVE THAT INVENTORY, YES.>>WHAT ABOUT THE LEISURE TRAVELER. YOU, OF COURSE, ON WEEKENDS AND OVER AT FAIRFIELD OR SLEEP INN, IN WASHINGTON, WHICH YOU OWN, YOU WANT TO GET TRAVEL PEOPLE FOR THE PERE?>>YES.>>MAYBE I SHOULD SAY YOU ARE LOOKING FOR ANYBODY THAT WANTS TO STAY OVERNIGHT.>>I THINK WHAT WILL SURPRISE A LOT OF PEOPLE, AND I REALLY WELCOME PEOPLE TO COME IN FOR TOURS. WE HAVE A LAP POOL THAT IS PRETTY IMPRESSIVE IN THE COURTYARD. THIS CERTAINLY ATTRACTS THE LEISURE TRAVELER. I REMEMBER MY CHILDREN WERE MUCH SMALLER AND EVEN LAST WEEKEND, I WAS WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN, THEY LOVE THE SWIMMING POOL. THE SWIMMING POOL IS A VERY GOOD ATTRACTION FOR THAT. SO THE LEISURE TRAVELER IS SOMEONE THAT PROBABLY MAKES THEIR PLANS A LITTLE SHORTER THAN THE BUSINESS TRAVELER. BUT WE THINK WE CAN REALLY BECOME A GOOD FOCAL HOTEL PROJECT WITH THE SWIMMING POOL. WE HAVE TABLE 19, OF COURSE, IN THE MARRIOTT, FULL SERVICE. WE HAVE THE BISTRO IN THE COURTYARD. I THINK OUR PROJECT IS ABOUT AS FAMILY FRIENDLY AS YOU COULD EVER EXPECT.>>PATRICK, HOW CRITICAL IS THE SUCCESS OF THIS HOTEL– YOU INVESTED 36MILLION, HOW CRITICAL IS IT TO MAKING SURE DOWNTOWN IS A NEW DOWNTOWN, NOT A STRETCH OF BARS THAT STAY OPEN UNTIL 4?>>IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE SEE WE HAVE A MIX OF BUSINESS TRAVELERS, LEISURE TRAVELERS, THAT WE HAVE GROWING NUMBER OF RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES DOWNTOWN. THAT’S VITAL. THE COUNCIL HAS DISCUSSED THIS– IT HAS BEEN A GOAL OF THEIR’S FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS TO SEE WE HAVE A VIBRANT ACTIVE DOWNTOWN WAREHOUSE DISTRICT. THE HOTEL IS A CRITICAL PART OF THAT. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE PERE MARQUETTE IS SOLID, STRONG, AND OPEN AND GOING FORWARD. WE ARE REALLY PLEASED TO SEE BOTH HOTELS ARE OPEN, AND THAT WE ARE MOVING DOWN THAT PATH.>>YOU ARE CONFIDENT YOUR DREAM TEAM, AS YOU CALL THEM, IS GOING TO GET THE BALL ROLLING?>>I AM VERY CONFIDENT. WE ALREADY THINK THAT BECAUSE THE DREAM TEAM THAT WE HAVE ARE VERY FAMILIAR WITH OUR AREA. THAT’S A VERY CRITICAL COMPONENT, IN THIS. YOU CAN TRY TO TEACH PEOPLE FROM OUT OF TOWN A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS COMMUNITY, BUT IF THEY HAVE LIVED IT, THEN IT WORKS.>>I WANT TO SAY THANK YOU TO PATRICK URICH, PEORIA CITY MANAGER, JOE LOMONACO MANAGER OF COURTYARD MARRIOTT, AND AGAIN TO GARY MATTHEWS, PRESIDENT OF EM PROPERTIES. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING HERE ON “AT ISSUE.” WE APPRECIATE YOU JOINING US FOR SPECIAL SUMMER EDITION OF “AT ISSUE.” WE WILL BE BACK IN SEPTEMBER WITH A WHOLE NEW SEASON PLEASE JOIN US IN SEPTEMER FOR MORE AT ISSUES.

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