[Updated on 19 April at 1900. Jeff Applebaum took exception to this piece and provided additional information to Roldo. You can read the entire exchange at $11-MILLION RESTAURANT DISPUTED BY COUNTY. JH]
Do you think downtown Cleveland needs another new upscale restaurant?
Do you think downtown Cleveland needs two more new fancy bars?
Do you think Cuyahoga County taxpayers should pay for the new restaurants and bars?
Well, guess what? You ARE going to pay for them!
The new Hilton hotel—County financed—will come with two new restaurants-bars.
The “Reformed” (biggest joke in years) Cuyahoga County government will pay hundreds of millions of dollars in construction and interest for a hotel that will lose money. The County, via the Port Authority bonds (allowing the dodge of federal taxes too), will borrow $256,864,057.75. Of this, $1,243,318 goes to pay the money people who draw up the documents. Finance guys always take a cut.
We have Gilded Age politicians here. Weak. Bought off.
And YOU will pay for it all. EVERY PENNY. With your sales tax. Regressive, of course.
(These eateries are reminiscent of Gateway where taxpayers paid $5,155,893 for the Terrace Club at then Jacobs Field and $2,370,134 for Sammy’s at the Arena, run by former Gateway board member Denise Fugo. All food revenue, however, goes to team owners, then and now. Officials are still pouring more tax money into these sports venues).
And new, Pulitzer Prize winning Plain Dealer editor George Rodrigue spent his Sunday column writing about comics! The Plain Dealer looks away from these sordid deals. Shamelessly pathetic. Ethically shady.
Here’s what the new foodie places are costing us:
Here’s how Hilton describes your experience to come:
Bar 32—32 floors above the skyline with direct views of the splashing waves of Lake Erie and the Cityscape is our one of a kind Bar 32. Craft drinks, a raw bar, and domestic and imported artisan cheeses are available to delight our guests. Our goal is to take your breath away with the stunning views, high-style bar menu, and showy drink selection.
And you taxpayer will pay for every stunning view. You can enjoy the view if you can afford the prices.
And here is how Hilton advertises the restaurant you bought for them:
Our three-meal-a-day restaurant will be a showcase to one of Cleveland’s most prominent and popular chefs. His regional American cuisine will reflect the uniqueness of the three levels of our 224-seat restaurant, modernly designed around the all-glass window views. On the upper level, our culinary team will surprise our guests with a fine-dining experience encompassed around the world of flavors. On the lower glass-front level viewing the courtyard and Zen Garden, guests will be introduced to a more casual version of the chef’s Specialties. Then, our casual menu will overflow into what will be everyone’s favorite area: our expansive outdoor patio, shaded by cantilever umbrellas. A private dining room will also be available for special reserved events.
Nothing is too good.
Of course, restaurants and bars have to have furniture, fixtures and equipment. And operating supplies—forks, spoons, dishes.
Our county officials have graciously supplied them.
In addition to the costs cited above that total $5,275,422, we must add the cost of outfitting these county subsidized eat and drink outlets with all the accoutrements for service.
So add the costs for furniture, fixtures and equipment a total of $3,477,936. Everything nice and new. Plush for sure.
For costs of operating supplies and other equipment another $2,543,896.
That adds another $6,021,832.
So what do we have—public subsidized eateries at a cost to Cuyahoga County taxpayers of $11,297,254. Again, that’s 11 million dollars.
If this isn’t outrageous I don’t know what is.
And they wonder why the American public is angry. Wonder why government is seen as oppressive to ordinary people.
We have children here aplenty in Cleveland and suburbs that don’t have enough to eat. Can’t make a solid dinner.
Yet the new reformed Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and the Cuyahoga County Commission can easily accommodate those who can afford the prices at these highly subsidized restaurants. And Mayor Frank Jackson joined in too. These are mostly our Democratic politicians. Pathetically absent.
Let’s look at some of the splash we are giving these spaces:
Tile: $185,000; miscellaneous ornamental iron and canopies: $222,487; Snow melt (?): $50,000; Portal: $143,314; Revised site entry: $317,709; Salad forks 11,304 of them at $24,416. (What the hell, somebody else pays the bill.)
At the lobby bar: Terrazzo: $80,000; millwork at bar: $94,000; miscellaneous iron—glass rails: $112,900.
And so much, much more.
Three-thousand-two-hundred banquet chairs, $316,800 (add fabric—$41,040); pasta bowls—1,512 for $22,150; Dinner plates, 10,500 for $93,450.
I couldn’t possible tell you all they will buy for these venues. The list of supplies is nine pages long, single spaced lists of items for service that end up costing more than $2.5 million.
Well, you get the picture.
But the final slap at County residents—property taxes.
Property taxes will be diverted from the county, city and library but not the Cleveland schools. It’s called Tax Incremental Financing, a form of tax abatement. (The County couldn’t give me the TIF cost. It will be in the millions of dollars. When and if I ever get it I’ll post it in the comment section.)
They will have to build underground to parking and will spend another $1.5 million for art.
Nothing is too much when someone else picks up the tab.