CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council on Monday will consider whether to issue $6 million in bonds to help rejuvenate the troubled Parkway Plaza Hotel and Convention Centre.
The hotel, the largest in the city, has experienced financial problems since being sold in 2008 to Texas-based Amidee Capital Group. The company later defaulted on vendor payments, failed to conduct millions of dollars worth of renovations it promised and had liens filed against it. In July, the property reverted back to Pat Sweeney, who owned it for 14 years before selling it to Amidee Capital Group. Sweeney told the Star-Tribune at that time that he planned on renovating the hotel and bringing it back to its former strength.
“Bad publicity and poor economic conditions aside, the conclusion can only be that the hotel will not return to a competitive position without a significant infusion of capital for renovation,” states an unattributed request to the council for the bonds. “And the current state of the banking industry makes it nearly impossible for hotels to tap usual means of financing.”
The bonds will be used to restructure the hotel's debt and provide for renovations, according to the request, which also details the woes the facility is having attracting business. The hotel has failed to keep up with local competitors in nine of the months between June 2009 and May 2010 and is having trouble attracting conventions, according to the request.
The city will only issue the bonds, known as Industrial Revenue Bonds, and will not assume any financial liability for them. Under state law, the bonds must create new jobs, promote and develop a diverse economy and increase the tax base or revenue.
That first condition may not be difficult to meet. The hotel, once one of the five largest private employers in Natrona County, has seen its payroll slashed by nearly a third since 2007, according to the request. That year, the Parkway Plaza employed 206 full- and part-time workers; by October 2010 it employed 140.
Repeated attempts to contact Sweeney were unsuccessful.