Kevin Valine

Modesto News: DoubleTree, city still talking about Centre Plaza

The DoubleTree Hotel on Ninth Street in Modesto.
The DoubleTree Hotel on Ninth Street in Modesto. dnoda@modbee.com

The city continues to talk with the DoubleTree Hotel about having it take over management of Modesto Centre Plaza, which was the centerpiece of the city’s downtown revitalization when it opened in 1988.

The city is trying to reduce or eliminate the $600,000 annual general fund subsidy it provides the convention center, which is next to the DoubleTree.

Community and Economic Development Director Brent Sinclair said it would be ambitious, but officials could bring an agreement to the City Council in early 2015 to have the DoubleTree operate the convention center.

“We are right in the thick of negotiations,” he said.

Modesto is trying to eliminate or reduce the general fund support it provides to various city operations as part of living within it means after years of budget cuts.

When the council in June approved the city’s $340million operating budget for the fiscal year that began July1, the budget included a $300,000 general fund subsidy for Centre Plaza. The subsidy was for six months because officials hoped that by the end of December, there would be a resolution regarding the center.

That does not look likely, so the city will be looking to increase the subsidy by an additional $300,000 for operating the center through June30. Sinclair said there is a possibility the city could find additional revenue to pay for this.

For a couple of years, the city has looked at what to do with the center. Officials have discussed turning it over to someone else to run, selling it or even shuttering it, though that is the least palatable option, officials have said.

Modesto and DoubleTree officials came close a couple of years ago to reaching an agreement to have the hotel run the facility, but the deal fell apart.

Officials have said the center is dated and needs work, and Sinclair said updating the center is one of the negotiation points between Modesto and the DoubleTree.

The center also has seen a drop in business, holding fewer trade shows, business meetings, conferences, proms and wedding receptions.

The center held roughly 600 events a year about a decade ago and held 435 last year, according to Bob Quintella, a retired Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department deputy director whom the city brought in about a year ago to run the center on an interim basis.

Despite facing increased competition from such downtown venues as the State Theatre and the Gallo Center for the Arts, the center still is considered integral to downtown. Quintella said it draws 200,000 to 250,000 people each year.

DoubleTree general manager Kole Siefkin could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or (209) 578-2316.

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