I held a press conference yesterday at the Court House in Charles Town. Here is the text of what I said:
I am here today to bring good news. We can all use a little good news. I am going to introduce legislation that will finally break the impasse in Harpers Ferry regarding Hilltop House. The legislation will be called the Tourism Development District Act.
Tourism is an essential industry here in the Eastern Panhandle. In Jefferson County it accounts for more than 1/3 of all the jobs. It is therefore essential that we do not waste opportunities to grow this crucial segment of our economy.
The Tourism Development District Act will directly help small municipalities like Harpers Ferry to be able to handle larger projects like Hilltop House.
The legislation will apply to:
I had some initial concerns about this process. However, placing these large projects under the jurisdiction of the WVDO ensures that the resources will be available to handle and manage them. Additionally, the bill provides mechanisms that ensure that the local governmental bodies such as the municipality of Harpers Ferry and Jefferson County will get the maximum benefit from the revenues generated.
I am introducing this legislation for a number of compelling reasons:
The timing is right.
The Economic Benefits of the Hill Top House Hotel are divided into two time frames:
2. Ongoing impact of hotel operations are estimated to include yearly:
Just from the increased tax revenue Jefferson County will receive:
In summary, the Hill Top House Hotel represents a $130 million opportunity. Those involved in the project are planning to bring the hotel back to its former glory – featuring a 129 room world class tourist destination.
I feel strongly that the time has come, after 13 years of Hill Top House Hotel struggles, 13 years of lost opportunity, lost revenue, lost business; the time has come to turn a loss into a win and allow the State of West Virginia to provide an assist; to support a mechanism for large investments to be made in our history, economy and prosperity.
For all these reasons, Senators Charles Trump and Craig Blair of the 15th District, in the Eastern Panhandle, Randy Smith of the 14th District, a portion of which is also in the Eastern Panhandle and I are going to co-sponsor and introduce the Tourism Development District Act next week in the legislature.