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The Columbia Star
Columbia, South Carolina
January 22, 2004     The Columbia Star
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January 22, 2004

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4 JANUARY 2 2 . 2 0 0 4 Business T COLUMBIA STAR  E ' John Tern Hotel d velopm guiding lights get snuffe Edens & Avant field trip In the past year members of Columbia City Council were wined and dined at the Sheraton Hotel in Overland Park, Kansas. John Lumpkin of Edens & Avant was the host, and Lumpkin's local con- tact was Garfield Traub Development, the devel- oper of the Sheraton Overland Park. City council was suitably impressed with the 412-room property attached to the conven- tion center. Sheraton claimed it was the nicest in their chain. Our city council was told that we, too, could have something like this, and that we, too, could bring on board Garfield Traub Development with their hotel experience. Yeah, but what's it cost? The Sheraton Overland Park opened in early December, 2002, not much more than a year ago. The hotel was a favorite among our city council because it was financed by the City of Overland Park. After all, it cost $92 million, including parking, and that came to $223,300 per room. That same $223,300 is a few thou- sand dollars more than what our city council now says our convention cen- ter Hilton is sure to cost. So, let's back up on this one. City council vis- its the Sheraton Overland Park, likes what it sees and wants one like it, if only 300 rooms instead of the 412 rooms there. The Overland Park conven- tion center is 237,000 square feet, and Columbia's is 147,000 square feet, almost a 40% drop in area and arguably a comparable drop in projected visitor count. Our city council, then, is doing a grand job in holding per room costs to $220,000, since what they saw and admired in Overland Park was a few thousand dollars more. $220,000 per room must be what they had in mind from the beginning. Never mind that no one in the Columbia market pays anywhere near enough in hotel rates to approach carrying the costs of a $220,000/room property, or even the costs of a $120,000/room property such as the new Marriott Grande Dunes at Myrtle Beach. Now, the bad news As it turns out, no one in Overland Park does either. The Sheraton Overland Park is bleed- ing, and the adjacent Overland Park conven- tion center's first year of use counts only six or seven full conventions, depending on the defini- tion of a full convention compared to a conference. The convention center's room nights it was sup- posed to generate for the attached Sheraton Overland Park is less than half the projections. For the first two years income is coming in over $7 million short The pre--construc- tion financial projections for the Sheraton Overland Park assured the City of Overland Park their hotel would have a net income of $6.6 million the first year, 2003, and another $8.4 million in 2004. In fact, income the first year was $3.3 million behind pro- jections, and the income now seen coming in 2004 is also far behind, $3.8 million behind. Where has our city council been while the real numbers were returning on operations Costs a bundle at the Sheraton Overland Park, their guiding light? Lumpkin took them out there several months ago, introduced the develop- ers, and cited the full development costs of $223,300/room. He took city council on the tour, all the while telling them this was their target quality and target price. So far, we can't find a member of city council to say: "By the way, how's the Sheraton Overland Park doing, the one we're copying? You mean they're losing tons of money? And the attached convention cen- ter had only seven con- ventions its first year? Our convention center is not even attached to our headquarters hotel. How bad is that? Who's land Loses a bundle planning is this mess? Wait a minute. Overland Park is next to Kansas City, right? And that's considerably larger than Columbia, right? More attractions, right? It's certainly inter- esting that we haven't seen their experienced hotel developer since Lumpkin and Edens & Avant won the deal, the sweetheart set-up with the 8% developer's fee for putting up no cash. We're paying Lumpkin millions for on-the-job training. Well, then, if they're fail- ing to attract business in Overland Park, and if they're losing so much money, maybe we should look elsewhere for our guiding light." We might imagine the response: 'Teah, how "bout the at Myrtle Beach? city-financed and city-owned deal, jl Columbia's. And hotel is physically attached to the tion center, like supposed to be. Beach spent only $120,000 a room op their ter headquarters they're bound to If the capital Grand Strand $100,000 less per than Columbia's has costs they can age, right?" The Myrtle convention center quarters hotel is lion behind its financial Rachel Professor looks for support for tem I could see why Charles Beard called the USC campus one of the most beautiful in Amq m Dr. Bill Dr. Bill Kreml Columbia's architec- tural community did not immediately accept Dr. Bill Kreml's sketche for a public temple where Eastern and Western thinkers could coalesce. Kreml is mounting pri- vate support for develop- ment of such a temple, with projections for development near USC. He expects public sectors will support the concept as well. The luke-warm response he got from architects he first showed the sketches struck the USC political science professor emeri- tus as ironic. After all, it had been Columbia's architectural character that had made such a positive first impression on him in 1959 when he first visited the capital city for a weekend. "I was stationed at Fort Gordon. It was Jefferson Davis's birth- day, and we had driven over here to drink beer," Kreml recalled. Of his first view of USC's Historic Horseshoe he recalled, "It was stun- ning, and I could see immediately why Charles Beard called it one of the most beautiful campuses in America." Years later his decision to accept a teaching posi- tion in Columbia was influenced by this initial response to some of the city's most evocative architecture. Over the years Kreml has been living and teaching in Columbia, he has come to appreciate the archi- tecture beyond the imme- diate campus. He has been one of the University's liaisons interfacing with the University Neighborhood Association regarding redevelopment in the block where the Kirkland Apartments and the Black House are located. Kreml recognizes the innate connections between his appreciation for architecture. "My father was president of Northwestern University and we lived in Evanston, the Chicago suburb. My parents exposed me to all the cul- tural opportunities Chicago had to offer." Kreml remembered the aesthetic architectur- al beauty of a Baha'i temple he passed by daily. One of the most pivotal cultural opportu- nities, though, was encouragement from Barry Byrne, a neighbor who was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's five pro- tegs. "I would go there while he was working at his drafting table, and he would tear off a sheet of drafting paper and hand it to me to do whatever I wanted on it." The implied expec- tation that Kreml was capable of producing something worthwhile became part of the young boy's persona. "I feel strongly architecture could have been the other road for me to have taken." Years later, sitting in an ancient Beijing temple, Kreml first sketched off concepts for an Eastern temple. "When I had taken the sketches as far as I could go with them, I began looking locally for an architect to execute my design," Kreml said. "To me, one ofthe most important elements of the design was spatial reference to the yin and yang concept. I had never seen, in all :my travels, a building that incorporated the compli- menting designs. I had a time finding someone who would take it on as I envisioned it." Then someone rec- Dr. Bill Kreml was inspired by this Baha'i ommended Temple Ligon. "I had known Temple through his Wrenn Institute lecture series and knew he had been educated and trained as an architect and urban planner. Right away, he saw what I saw in the concept and began draw- ing the plans. Plans now Kreml is making through his work of contacts dering support broadening his tives on how the can work for Palmetto Pest Elimination...We Get it Dead Right the First Time. Call us today with your pest control needs. (803) 251-2522