Columbia Hospitality hired to run the show

In eight years of building conference centers in Puget Sound, Columbia Hospitality has never seen one fail financially.

That kind of reputation was what the Bremerton City Council was banking on as they voted unanimously Wednesday for Columbia to manage Bremerton’s center upon its completion in July 2004.

The firm has already had offers from two different groups interested in hosting events in the proposed meeting rooms on Bremerton’s waterfront.

“We envision it to be a community treasure, a county gathering place,” said Brett Madison, chief operating officer for Columbia Hospitality.

He stood at the podium answering a range of questions regarding the sustainability of the conference center from City Council members.

The name of the building is yet to be decided. In earlier brochures, the name “The Centre of Bremerton” was chosen for the waterfront center.

“That seemed to have the best catch to it at this point,” said Bremerton’s Economic Development Director Gary Sexton.

Council member Cecil McConnell expressed distaste with that name, and councilman Mike Shepherd suggested instead selling the name to a corporation. One recent well-known example was the name sale of the Mariners baseball stadium to Safeco Insurance Company, which named the ballfield Safeco Field.

Madison discussed selling the names of different rooms inside the conference center, like Columbia Hospitality did for another building they run, Seattle’s World Trade Center.

Columbia Hospitality will have total control over Bremerton’s conference center. They will handle booking and day-to-day operations, as well as promotion, food, beverage and janitorial services.

The city of Bremerton will pay a fixed fee to Columbia Hospitality of $6,000 a month.

The contractor earns 1.5 percent of gross revenues each month.

In the coming year before the building is opened, Columbia Hospitality will participate in design meetings with the city and architects regarding the interior setup of the center.

Within 45 days, the city will pay Columbia Hospitality $50,000 for startup fees through August. By Aug. 30, the city will provide $100,000 for operating expenses between August and December. Then the city will provide Columbia Hospitality with $150,000 for operating expenses between January and July 2004.

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