City officials propose plan to pay for Convention Center expansi - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

City officials propose plan to pay for Convention Center expansion

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City officials on Thursday proposed creating an assessment district in which area hotels will pay for the planned expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

The plan, developed by Mayor Jerry Sanders, the Convention Center Board of Directors and hoteliers, would levy a 3 percent assessment on each room night for downtown hotels. Those in Mission Valley or around Mission Bay would be charged 2 percent, and more outlying facilities 1 percent.

"As I have said from the very beginning, the expansion of our Convention Center should be paid for by those who will benefit from it," Sanders said. "Given that the hospitality industry stands to gain substantially, it's only logical that they should fund a significant portion of this."

The current price estimate for the expansion, scaled down from earlier versions, is $550 million, according to the mayor's office. City officials said the assessment district is expected to raise about $28 million to $30 million annually to pay for debt service.

More funding sources are needed to pay for the project. The mayor said he hopes to finalize a financing package by the end of the year.

Floor space would increase by 961,187 square feet to more than 2.75 million square feet. The square footage of meeting rooms and ballrooms would double under the plan.

The mayor's office believes an expanded Convention Center will increase hotel-room nights by 657,000 each year and produce $121 million in new revenue annually. It estimates the city will reap an additional $16 million in hotel tax revenue.

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