The City of Columbia City Council met for a Work Session on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 in the City Hall Council Chambers at 1737 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina. Mayor Robert D. Coble called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. Council members present were The Honorable E. W. Cromartie, II, The Honorable Jim D. N. Papadea, The Honorable Hamilton Osborne, Jr., The Honorable Sam Davis and The Honorable Tameika Isaac Devine. Absent was The Honorable Anne M. Sinclair. Also present were Mr. Charles P. Austin, Sr., City Manager and Ms. Erika D. Moore, City Clerk.
CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION / ACTION
A. Hilton Convention Center Hotel – Mr. Paul C. “Bo” Aughtry, Windsor / Aughtry Company
Mr. Paul C. Aughtry, III, Windsor/Aughtry Company President, told the
members of Council that the objectives of the Convention Center Hotel are
to be a successful, full service, first class hotel; to service the Columbia
Metropolitan Convention Center; to serve as a “go to” destination for business
and hotel related events; and to open by New Years Eve 2005. Mr.
Aughtry stated that they are offering alternatives to the traditional Hilton
brand. He said that the hotel design being presented today is a Hilton
Garden Inn, which is dictated by the lobby layout, height and exterior
material selections. Mr. Aughtry outlined the guest amenities as
follows: exercise room with aerobic and resistance equipment; outdoor
pool with large sundeck; and a 24-hour convenience gift shop. He
said that Business Services would include 5,000-6,000 square feet of flexible
meeting space to accommodate a two (2) person meeting up to a ball room
function; a business library / center; high tech audiovisual equipment;
wireless internet connections throughout the hotel; and fax and printer
services. He proposed a full service, 100 seat restaurant that would
provide three (3) prepared meals daily served with china and silverware;
a kitchen with the ability to provide catered meals to meetings as well
as guest room service; and a well appointed lounge area with bar, plasma
televisions and more. Mr. Aughtry explained that guest services would
include a lobby ATM; a bell desk; guest laundry services; valet parking;
and shuttle vans. He added that meeting rooms would include ample
pre-function space; creative and multiple catering options; exceptional
finishes and dedicated service staff. He further explained that there
would be a guest room mix of 26 suites, 126 kings and 73 double queen rooms
comprised of designer specific, high quality furnishings exceeding the
Hilton standard; oversized worker friendly roll out desks with multiple
AC outlets; two telephones and two lines with voicemail and one speaker
phone; complimentary wired and wireless high speed internet access with
“print me” capability from each room; microwave; refrigerator; radio; hair
dryer; coffee maker; iron; ironing board; bathroom with granite counter
tops; curved shower rods; and upscale residential style lighting and fixtures.
He noted that the Hilton Honors program is the best Affinity program offering
500 frequent flier miles per night and that Hotel Management would utilize
a Central Reservation System. Mr. Aughtry told the members of Council
that Atlantic Hospitalities generated a third party professional Market
Study, which indicated that 40% of the hotel’s business would come from
the Convention Center. He acknowledged the four (4) firms representing
the Development and Construction Team: Windsor/ Aughtry Company, Inc. (Developer);
MB Kahn Construction Company, Inc. (General Contractor); Bounds & Gillespie
of Memphis, Tennessee a Minority Business Enterprise (Architectural and
Design Firm); and Davis & Floyd / Powers McElveen & Associates
(Site Engineering and Related) and the two (2) firms representing the Ownership
and Operations Team: Vista Hotel Partners, LLC (Owner) and Hospitality
America, Inc. (Management). Also, Mr. Steve Benjamin and his partners
of Third Way Hospitality will partner with Vista Hotel and Capital City
The Room Block Agreement is for 80 rooms from the Hampton Inn upon opening and a 275-room block capability after opening. In closing, Mr. Aughtry stated that the Windsor/ Aughtry Company is in the hotel business and not the sales business and that they are longtime hotel owners.
Mr. Chris Cargen, Hospitality America, Inc. President, told the members of Council that the firm currently operates twelve (12) hotels and each hotel replaces 100% of the carpet every five (5) years. He noted that Hospitality America, Inc. was ranked as #3 of the top 100 Management Companies in the hotel industry and ranked #1 for occupancy rates. Mr. Cargen added that the ballroom would include 12 square feet of space per seat. Mr. Cargen told the members of Council that their intention is to develop all meeting space on the first floor of the hotel.
Mr. Paul C. Aughtry insisted that the Convention Center Hotel should compliment, but not compete with the Convention Center. He stated that this would be a three (3) star hotel with a $125.75 room rate per night according to the Hospitality Association. Mr. Aughtry explained that 4% of revenues are placed into capital reserves for future refurbishing. He said that the hotel could be designed for expansion, but expansion would be disruptive. He told the members of Council that with the $3 million subsidy the hotel would have larger guest rooms and expanded public area components. Mr. Aughtry stated that his preference would be to build a 200-room hotel and to serve breakfast only.
· Mayor Coble adjourned the Work Session at 10:15 a.m. to convene the regular meeting.
· Mayor Coble adjourned the regular meeting at 10:25 a.m. to reconvene the Work Session.
Mr. Paul C. Aughtry responded to various questions and concerns, which were presented by the members of City Council. He agreed to continue discussions with City staff in regards to the land and the subsidy being offered.
Mr. Chris Harding noted that his firm manages many Hilton brand hotels. He said that they are looking at a partnership with a qualifying regional or national restaurant, they may franchise the restaurant or they may operate the restaurant themselves.
Mr. Paul C. Aughtry, asked the members of Council for expedient instructions. He noted that this is an eighteen (18) month project and they’ve discussed how to fast track certain aspects of the developm