Update: As someone who helped to build the entire process behind this initiative and who has worked, on a daily basis, with all of the principal players involved, I can state definitively that the numbers presented by Mr. Aymond aren’t just heavily inflated; they’re egregiously inflated. Period. He can say whatever he pleases about me as a person. He is perfectly entitled to his opinion. (And I can take it. I know I’ve been critical of him too).

But the facts are the facts. And the fact is: He’s wrong, and he is misleading his readership.

Re: The Downtown Hotels Initiative in Alexandria.

Considering this was picked up by a local talk radio station and has been covered by another local blogger, I think some clarification is in order. A handful of people have asked me why I even pay attention to this; it’s simple: Apparently, a few folks in our local mainstream media actually believe this.

From Greg Aymond:

What the Town Talk actually wrote was that “The initial phase, Roy said, will be a project in the range of $50 million to $60 million, with more than 80 percent of that funding coming from the private sector”. (See: “$50 million-plus downtown plan will cost Alexandria at least $9.5 million“). The opposite of “private” is “public”, which I thought that the “public” meant us. If my math isn’t wrong, that comes to up to $12 million in “public” funds.

In addition to what Hospitality Initiatives Partnership (H.I.P.) has to put up, or not, (the $12 million in “public funds”), we taxpayers of Alexandria will also be out of an additional $10 million in infrastructure improvements plus an additional $2 million — and use that as “gap financing” for the project through a long-term lease or sale at a reduced cost. id. That is, also if my math serves me correctly, is $12 million from us citizens of Alexandria.

So the total costs to us taxpayers is a total of $24 million. I apologize for stating that it was $15 million.

You see what he did there?

He extrapolated numbers based exclusively on a single media report. The Town Talk reported the project could represent between a $50M – $60M investment in Alexandria, which is absolutely true, and the Mayor said the public component would represent less than 20% of that investment. Remember: The public already owns and/or operates two of the three pieces of the project, both the Fulton Hotel and the Riverfront Center, and the public investment would be, almost exclusively, in public infrastructure. (By the way, last I checked: Public dollars were also used to pave the roads and build the infrastructure in and around Mr. Aymond’s law office, but I guess that is beside the point).

Anyway, Mr. Aymond used the high end ($60M), determined that 20% of $60M would be $12M, and proclaimed that we’d be spending $12M on the deal. I know for a fact: He has NEVER spoken with any of the principals on this deal; he’s never seen any numbers; he is basing his assumptions, exclusively, on ONE story in the newspaper.

(I know: He’s a lawyer; therefore, he’s an expert, at least in the mind of at least one, very local talk radio personality).

Then, Mr. Aymond doubled that number. I’m not sure why he doubled that number, but make no mistake about it: He is using the same exact, inflated numbers TWICE, numbers he extrapolated from a single quote from a single article in the newspaper.

The best thing about this: He is now polling readers on whether or not taxpayers should be on the hook for his invented number.


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