Monday, January 04, 2010

Build, baby, build: demand drops yet Metro cannot stop increasing supply

We've seen it happen time and again in the past 3 or 4 years: the sustained implosion of the housing market cycle of speculation, which is just another form of gambling. Suburban ghost towns emerge out of denial: they keep appearing because demand simply fails to keep pace with supply, because developers and planners don't know when to walk away from the craps table.

And is the tourist trade any less speculative, any less of a gamble than the real estate market? The Tennessean has a story this morning on the contraction, if not the bursting, of the convention center bubble. Despite most indicators pointing to a convention market in retreat, Nashville's convention center boosters continue to dream outrageously and oh-so-conventionally, confusing decrease in demand with shortage in supply:
2009 was a sluggish year for Nashville's convention and meetings business, as area hotels struggled to maintain large bookings and as businesses cut spending during the recession. That weakness is likely to continue this year, hotel and tourism officials said ....

Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he believes the weaker bookings in 2009 were partly due to the economy and Nashville's loss of business from larger groups that need bigger spaces.
There is a time to build a new convention center and a time not to build a new convention center. All indications are that this time is the latter, even though the Music City Center speculators, who gamble with other people's tax revenues, say otherwise.

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