Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
AGREES TO CONTROVERSIAL FUNDING SCHEME
Developer Gets to Keep Room Taxes
Shady financing? New Orleans’ World Trade Center is adding a
A controversial decision in Louisiana
will allow the developer of a proposed 600-room hotel to keep the
bed taxes collected at his property for himself.
The project, which involves the conversion of the 19th through
30th floors of New Orleans’ World Trade Center into a hotel, is
being spearheaded by local developer Larry J. Sisung Jr., who
proposed the deal to state legislators. The agreement calls for
revenue from occupancy taxes to go back into the property, to help
Sisung pay off debt.
“The new deal will create $30 million to $35 million in extra
equity for Sisung,” said Kristina Ford, executive director of the
New Orleans Building Corp., which is overseeing the trade center
project. Since New Orleans owns the land under the trade center,
said Ford, the city “has an interest in this project coming to
fruition.” The city will charge about $1 million in annual
When the Sisung deal was hammered out, state lawmakers voted to
raise the hotel tax in New Orleans from 11 to 12 percent.
Marc Sanders, president of the Greater New Orleans Hotel-Motel
Association and general manager of the New Orleans Marriott, called
the funding arrangement an inappropriate use of tax dollars.
“The decision could open a Pandora’s box,” said William E.
Langkopp, executive vice president for the hotel-motel association.
“This clearly sets a precedent. Our hope is that it is a very
Already, however, legislators from Alexandria and Baton Rouge
are considering similar deals, said Langkopp.
• TERENCE BAKER
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