Trenton hotel $3M improvement application advances

TRENTON – The Local Finance Board OK’d four Trenton-related applications Wednesday, including the $3 million for the hotel improvement work.

The four applications involved $12.9 million for various capital projects; $1.7 million for sewer improvements; $28.1 for water utility work; and $3 million for improvements to the Lafayette Yard Hotel.

Regarding the $12.9 million application, Bond Counsel Ed McManimon said Trenton has not had a general improvement bond ordinance before the board in three years. 

The state has oversight over the capital city. Chairman Thomas Neff said that the city also will have to receive approval from the state monitor.

He also said that they will need detailed information in the future on some of the projects to ensure that more money is not being spent than necessary.

Regarding the hotel, McManimon said the city wants to improve hotel infrastructure as a byproduct of Marriott leaving and a new operator arriving.

Parsippany-based Wyndham said its arrival is tied to these improvements, he told the board.

All of this is so that at some future point the hotel possibly could be sold to a private entity. The hotel was built as a public-private partnership, and only the city has power to sell it, McManimon said.

There is about $13 million in outstanding debt guaranteed by the city and the hotel does not generate enough revenue, he explained.

“The issue before this board is whether spending $3 million is throwing good money after bad,’’ he said.

“The goal was to create a vibrant energy around that hotel,’’ he said, and if this works it would be a better result than if the hotel failed.

The work includes guest room improvements, lobby work,  sign changes, carpeting, computers, and more.

The hotel ceases to be a Marriott on Friday, but it will continue operating as an independent, the board was assured. Wyndham wants a capital city presence, but won’t come in and put its brand name on the facility before this $3 million is approved, the board was told.

Neff did say the hotel should do a better job going forward of keeping the board and the Economic Development Authority apprised of developments.

The City Council still has to take action on the proposal, and the state monitor would have oversight responsibility as the process moves forward.

Trenton hotel $3M improvement application advances