Livermore’s mayor, a council member, city staff and citizens have discussed recently whether a hotel developer would step up to develop a hotel on the westside of Livermore Avenue. If the Central Park initiative and related referendum passed, a westside hotel developer would be necessary.
Opinions have varied.
At the July 8 council meeting, Councilmember Bob Coomber asked staff when the 2015 hotel Request for Proposal (RFP) went out, how many hoteliers chose the westside. Community Development Director Paul Spence noted that there were no submittals for the westside. The eastside was seen as a preferred location.
At the July 23 Council meeting, Mayor John Marchand stated, “I’ve heard a lot of people come up and say that they have talked to hoteliers and there are all kinds of hoteliers that are looking to bring in a hotel, westside, eastside. Since we had the 14 responses to our RFP that was in 2015 now, has anybody approached the city bringing a hotel project to the city?”
Paul Spence answered “No, we have not had anybody else come to us and request or ask for permission to work on a hotel downtown.”
At another point in the meeting, Marchand spoke to members of the audience, stating, “Don’t be promising me that you’ve got other hotels that want to move into this town when nobody’s come forward.”
This week, Adam Van de Water, the city’s Director of Innovation and Economic Development, provided a statement to The Independent. “I had a wide-ranging, hour long conversation with the president of a hotel development company, one of the largest in the United States. His company owns and operates many boutique hotels in California, which he referenced to affirm the market for a downtown Livermore hotel that could serve wine country, business and downtown visitors.”
Community members offered additional perspectives.
At the July 16 Planning Commission meeting, Jeff Kaskey reported that he had talked with the hotel developer who had called Van de Water. Kaskey related his conversation with the billion-dollar hospitality developer, whom he said spoke very highly of the westside location. Expressing his interest in Livermore, the developer stated, “A westside hotel is a viable option, commercially attractive to this developer and others. It would be profitable for Livermore.”
On July 23, Jean King told The Independent about her conversation with the developer whom Van de Water and Kaskey referenced. First, she stated, “The issue is not whether a hotel developer can step forward at this moment. The issue is whether one would step forward if the city moved to a westside hotel site, and if Presidio were not interested in that location. Some have said that no hotel developer would respond now to a request to develop a westside hotel. That is simply not the case.
“It also is not true that hotel developers have never expressed an interest in a westside hotel. At the January 29, 2018 city council meeting, Rikesh Patel representing Presidio said he was open to a westside hotel. In 2016, Ulferts, a Dublin development company, responded to the City’s RFP with a westside hotel development proposal. Furthermore, it could be asked to what extent has the City been promoting an eastside hotel to developers, rather than a westside hotel.
“However, that is the past. What is important now is that the president of one of the largest hotel development companies in the country has stated his interest in a destination, resort hotel on the westside. Of course, the city must reach out to him. The president would only move forward if Presidio were not interested.”
King continued, “This hotel developer owns and operates its hotels. He believes that there is a demand for a life-style, destination hotel next to a large park with wine-related retail nearby. A resort hotel with a quality restaurant would bring substantially higher room rates.
“I understood that the higher room rates and larger number of rooms would result in more sales, property and Transit Occupancy Tax for the city. These higher hotel taxes would benefit the city’s general fund. In addition, the guests from the hotel would provide a ripple effect that would lift area businesses, further increasing taxes for the city’s general fund.”
Tom Ramos spoke last Friday with the same hotel developer. Ramos said, “He is interested in the westside location because there is more room than on the eastside to provide space for a restaurant, a park and nearby parking. He judged that the hotel would become the face of Livermore. It would impart the rich heritage of our wine country. The hotel has to be 4-star. It would bring in higher revenue to the city.”