Where’s that hotel?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 3, 2003

Interesting developments with the hotel/conference center at Constant’s Wharf broke Friday.

As I’ve written here before, rumors have been flying for months that Procaccianti Group was having second thoughts about involving itself in the Suffolk-Stormont-TowneBank project. Officials associated with the project, of course, have refused to discuss it publicly. It’s apparent, however, that Procaccianti has been out of the picture for some time and a vow of silence was taken until officials could scramble and come up with another investor.

While the silence with the media and taxpayers who are guaranteeing a portion of the funding certainly bothers me, it is at least predictable. What is frightening, however, is the apparent effort to keep the people’s elected representatives in the dark, as well.

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While speaking off the record recently with one city council member, I was told that they had no idea what was going on with the hotel, had even heard a rumor that Procaccianti representatives had told people in another town during a presentation something to the effect that, &uot;Don’t judge us by what’s going on in Suffolk.&uot;

Just what in the heck is going on here that we’re not being told?

Were I on City Council – in addition to feeling impotent – I’d be asking some hard questions.

Now, it’s Noble Investment Group that will be Stormont’s &uot;equity partner&uot; in the project. I have no idea who they are, don’t really care. All I care about is seeing walls start to go up on the wharf.

It’s been almost three years since City Council and officials decided to put money and reputations – their reputations, taxpayer money – on the line and build this thing. Investors have been lured downtown on the promise of an opulent hotel to draw people to their businesses. It’s time to get the thing moving. We’re in it up to our ears now, anyway, what possible difference could a few more million dollars make?

Honor demands that the City of Suffolk do what is necessary to get the hotel built, up to and including guaranteeing the entire financing and creating a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation to operate it. Noble and Stormont should be given 60 or 90 days tops to get their act together or asked to take a hike. Unlike Stormont Hospitality Group, people have already risked their own hard-earned money on the city’s promises and it’s imperative if future investment in downtown is to materialize that the city have a reputation for following through on its commitments.

The time has come to stop playing games. Either build the hotel or move on to something else. Frankly, it’s becoming an embarrassment. I’m tired of hearing about it and certainly tired of reporting on it.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611, or via e-mail at: andy.prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com.