Visalia city council voted unanimously to send out a Request for Proposal (RRP) to hotel developers in order to promote properties close to the convention center. This action was prompted by three unsolicited expressions of interests from developers to build a down town hotel in the last six months.
In February, the Visalia City Council scheduled a closed door negotiation with L.A. hotel developer, Remo Pizzichemi, the Vice President of Operations for the Welcome Group. The discussion involved building a new hotel near the Visalia Convention Center but no commitments were made.
Three properties will be on the RFP, but the one that stands out is 315 E Acequia that could easily connect to the convention center. The building is currently City Hall East and houses 70 employees. The developer would have to pay full market value for the property and the moving costs for the employees. Visalia’s usually runs a two thirds occupancy rate that can get as high as 90%, leaving few affordable rooms close to the convention center. The 195 room Marriot that connects to the property and the 72 room Comfort suites are the most heavily used hotels for downtown and the convention center. Devin Jones of the Economic Development Department said that Visalia, as a whole, falls short of needed hotel rooms by a few hundred.