City agrees to carry convention center’s utility costs during pandemic shutdown

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Wenatchee Convention Center

WENATCHEE —The city of Wenatchee will take on some of the overhead costs of the Wenatchee Convention Center, which has suffered during the pandemic.

The center at 121 N. Wenatchee Av. is owned by the city but operated by Coast Hospitality, which owns the Coast Wenatchee Hotel nearby. City executive services director Laura Merrill told the city council on Thursday the cost of the one-year agreement will be about $100,000 dollars.

“They still have a lot of fixed costs, such as keeping the lights on, utilities, water … and so that is what’s being shifted onto the city’s responsibility,” Merrill told the council.

The center has been unable to book events while pubic-health orders relating to COVID-19 forbid large gatherings. The city’s expenses should eventually be reimbursed out of lodging tax when normal business resumes, Merrill said.

“I think the hotel’s doing their best to try to keep folks employed and people in rooms, but this is obviously quite a burden to them financially,” Mayor Frank Kuntz told the council ahead of the vote.

“It seems like the right thing to do. The convention center is a city asset.”

City Council Member Linda Herald is sales director for the convention center. She recused herself from the vote.