Staunton confident in its ‘Omni’

The hotel/conference center on which hopes for a downtown resurgence have been hanging will cost Staunton taxpayers nearly $580,000 this year, but officials in the Queen City express optimism and confidence (not worries), in a story in today's News Leader, that– despite lower than anticipated bookings– that the renovated lodgings will spur sales and meals tax revenues to cover the debt service payments.

According to the News Leader, the City's debt service on the project will be $579,186 but that officials expect an annual jump of $700,000 a year in sales and meals tax revenues. In the 1980s, Charlottesville taxpayers were left footing the bill for development of what became the Omni hotel, the western anchor of the Downtown Mall.

Not counting a 75-year subsidized land lease that has about 55 years left to run, Charlottesville taxpayers wound up paying over $11.4 million for the Omni. But some city leaders defended the expenditure and claimed that the Omni was responsible for the Mall's success– even though it existed for at least 10 years before the Mall's mid-1990s boom.

The Hook once asked if Staunton were "the next Charlottesville."