Torgerson email regarding Holiday Inn
This unedited email from Tom Torgerson, CEO and board chairman of TPI Hospitality, was sent Sunday to Mayor Ardell Brede, Rochester City Council members and the Post-Bulletin.
Mayor and City Council
January 10, 2016
I am sorry to be sending you this broadcast e-mail, which is a first for me in my 37 year career. However, I feel it is of value to the community to share our thoughts related to the St. Mary's 2nd Street Corridor. We are the developers, and still owners and operators of the Marriott SpringHill Suites that opened in June of 1998 across from St. Mary's Hospital. Since then we developed, own and operate two more hotels in this corridor to include the Courtyard by Marriott with its parking ramp and award winning Saint's On Second restaurant. And most recently our Homewood Suites by Hilton and its parking ramp and retail space. To date we still own and operate all three of these properties and are very proud of our continued reinvestment to keep them exemplary facilities in this neighborhood.
We have been told many times that our willingness to work with the Kutzky Park Neighborhood Association and the Economic Development Association to design facilities that meet their vision for the corridor has been MUCH appreciated. We have also been told that our designs have set very high standards for others to follow.
We have no issue with continued redevelopment of the 2nd Street Corridor and welcome it! We do have issue with a few items related to the proposed Holiday Inn development:
1. Back in 1997, at the suggestion of City Planning, we incorporated a tunnel access into our SpringHill Suites by Marriott's design. It is 19 years later and no tunnel was ever constructed.
2. After that, when we developed the Courtyard by Marriott, and then again when we developed the Homewood Suites by Hilton, there existed no suggestion of such a tunnel access and thus none exists. However, we are willing to do so, at our expense, even though we do not have basements.
3. Not one of our three developments ever received any public financial support. Our three developments combined significantly exceeds the investment level of the proposed Holiday Inn hotel and have spurred revitalization of this corridor. All three of our projects bridged public alleyways and utilities and never requested or received any public assistance.
I said we have no issue with the continued development of the 2nd Street Corridor, that is true. We do have issue with public monies being used in a private development which provides for any type of competitive advantage single purpose tunnel connection to St. Mary's. We have continued to express to Richard Freese, and others in the City, that we will adapt our buildings to make a connection if a tunnel or skyway every becomes viable. We do not have basements but can engineer connections to a tunnel concept. And, in doing so, we are not suggesting the use of public monies/tax increment financing for our sole benefit. I believe the success of our three hotels is a strong testament to the point that public monies are not needed to spur private development along this corridor. On the other hand, if the City looks to direct public monies towards a neighborhood public use tunnel system that promotes a greater cause than one private business, we would then be in full support of that.
We do not feel that it is appropriate for Rochester to 1) provide public monies to fund an unfair competitive advantage, especially in light of, 2) our history of paying our fair way with no public assistance but also setting a very high standard of quality for others that follow us.
I am trying to adjust my schedule to be present at the next Council Meeting on the Holiday Inn project, I am told February 1st. If I am not able to make such arrangements, I hope my message will be justly considered. Additionally, I did reach out to Larry Brutger, speaking with him before Christmas. It was his advice for us to communicate our interests and position to the City directly. I also spoke with Jesse Welsh of KPNA yesterday and she too suggested I reach out to you on this matter. Richard Freese, to his credit, has kept us in mind for future planning purposes as it relates to a possible broader use neighborhood tunnel. I owe a return phone call to Brent Svenby from last week and will reach out to him Monday. However, I sense that this matter is raising to the Council level and decisions will be made about it in the not too distant future, thus I am reaching out to you now.
CEO/Chairman of the Board
TPI Hospitality, a Minnesota Company
100% Employee Owned and voted numerous times a Top Place To Work In Minnesota