Abilene is growing, that's what the signs say, and it's true. Although, it seems Abilene is growing outward. Hotels are going up all along Interstate-20, drawing in guests from the highway. And yet there isn't one next to our Civic Center, to draw guests in to downtown. Several studies have been done in the past and they suggest that a full service hotel next to the center would be important to the development of the downtown are. The Mayor and the City want to fix that. Their vision...
"What we'd want to see downtown is a full service hotel with a restaurant and retail to meet needs of people staying there," shares Richard Burdine, Assistant City Manager and Director of Economic Development.
The problem is without a hotel right by the Civic Center, some conventions are less likely to come to Abilene.
"Right now people are having to drive back and forth or be bused all the way out to the mall which is about five miles away. It's a little bit of a hindrence," admits Mayor Norm Archibald.
Also, the Mayor suggests that without a fully accomadating hotel next to the Civic Center, Abilene might be missing out on more conventions. "I think it's pretty obvious. If other cities have [a hotel] that is attached to [a convention center] then they've got an advantage over us. A lot of people would be able to stay at the hotel there at the conference center."
Which means something needs to be done to help the Conventions and Visitors Bureau to attract tourists. As Burdine sees it they are severly at a disadvantage without a hotel adjacent to the Civic Center. So what would it take to make this happen?
Mayor Archibald answers, "We'd like to see it soon, but we'd need a match finding a hotel company, the right sight to put it on, and the right incentives to put together. We will keep working on it, we haven't given up on it."
But right now it remains just a vision, and the mayor did express is that this plan is not yet a reality. It is merely an idea of what could be done to help Abilene.