Another Library Lot Study Surfaces
We recently noted the arrival in Council members’ mailboxes of an authoritative study on the viability of conference centers generally and the Valiant proposal specifically. This study, informally referred to in these parts as the Skelton report, predicted that the Valiant proposal would generate a money-losing hotel and conference center.
Now a second report has followed the (electronic) mailbox route to Council’s desk. It is the mysterious report that we cited in our original complaint about the Roxbury report’s failure to do any real economic analysis. This is the report that was actually commissioned by Valiant Partners and it is a good one, professionally and competently done. The report, dated April 14, 2010 and executed by PKF Consulting (a New York firm), uses a different set of data and perspectives from the Skelton report to examine how competitive a conference center as described in the project proposal would be. (They were working from the larger 30,000 square foot center originally proposed.) The conclusions and analysis are thought-provoking reading in themselves. It does not appear to be a “push” report, making a sales case, but rather to be an honest study based on the best assumptions available.
A quick overview of the conclusions: they state that the conference center (as a whole) would be competitive in the Ann Arbor market, and might even draw some new business. But mostly it would be more attractive for some events than currently available venues. The report writers also say that the debt burden anticipated would mean that it would be necessary to charge rates at the high end of the market. They state emphatically that it is not a financial feasibility study and make no predictions about whether it would actually operate at a profit.
The report was available to the Roxbury group, but when the consultant, David Di Rita was asked about it, dismissed it as a “paid for” study that could not be credibly used by his firm in making an assessment – as he also dismissed the Skelton report as being “paid for” by the opposition. It is too bad that he didn’t instead give us an intelligent comparison and reconciliation of the two reports.
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