Local business, tourism and elected leaders have long said it is imperative to have hundreds of good-quality hotel rooms a short distance from the Dayton Convention Center.
But the sale of the former Crowne Plaza hotel, which is attached to the convention center, raised questions about whether it might lose rooms since the new owner proposed converting some of its hotel product into affordable housing for veterans.
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Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw said the Crowne Plaza property is entirely the wrong place to put the kind of housing under consideration, and studies and research have concluded that the convention center needs first-rate hotel product attached and nearby.
” I along with the mayor have been working with the business community … to talk about this and everyone has said it’s not good for the city, it’s not good for downtown and it’s certainly not good for the convention center,” he said.
Other officials say they have talked with the new ownership and hope its plans for the hotel property are compatible with efforts to remake and boost interest in the convention center.
” The CFA has had positive engagement with the new owners and shared our vision for the center and convention ‘district,’ which they are very receptive to and have committed to a high-quality hotel product,” said Pam Plageman, executive director of the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority (CFA).
The Crowne Plaza hotel at 33 E. Fifth St. sold last spring for $13.1 million to LW Dayton V LLC and rebranded as the Radisson Hotel.
The groups said they want to redesign and convert their newly acquired properties into “mixed-use destinations” that include affordable housing for veterans 55 and over who live on a fixed income.
” We are creating a mixed-use, urban model, which reduces isolation for aging veterans and answers a growing need for senior day care services,” Eddie Dovner, principal at Veteran Services USA, said in a press release.
Veteran Services USA declined to comment for this article, but information on its website suggests the Dayton property could be a mix of limited-service hotel product and housing, possibly 118 units.
Convention center attendees prefer to stay in a hotel adjacent to their destination or within a three-block walk, which is why every hotel room near the facility is important, said Jacquelyn Powell, president and CEO Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Right now, the Radisson Hotel is the only hotel near the convention center, she said, and its supply of rooms often is insufficient to meet the needs of businesses and other groups that potentially could book the center for their events.
Commissioner Shaw said veteran housing might make sense in other parts of the city, but not in the heart of a revitalized downtown, next to or near new attractions and amenities that support tourism, generate activities and bring people into the center city, like the Levitt Pavilion Dayton and the Dayton Arcade.
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