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Renovation of Blanche Hotel on the Launching Pad:  Will everyone have a chance to participate?

"If this project is something the community doesn't want, we need to know that," Dennille Decker

Posted December 4, 2014  01:55 pm

Chamber of Commerce Director, Dennille Decker.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – The renovation and revitalization of downtown Lake City's deteriorating Blanche Hotel was on the docket at yesterday morning's Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB or Board) meeting. City Manager and EDAB member, Wendell Johnson, gave the committee an update. He announced that a committee was formed and Chamber of Commerce Director Dennille Decker had taken "a leadership role in putting the stakeholders committee together."

The first meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on December 16. Later in the day, Ms. Decker's recollection of events was a little different. She did not attend the EDAB meeting.

City Manager Johnson told the Board, "We had a small meeting, Glenn [Hunter], Dennille Decker from the Chamber and myself a few days ago. Dennille has taken a leadership role in putting the stakeholders committee together."

Your reporter asked City Manager Johnson if the meeting was going to be advertised.

The City Manager was silent.

Economic Development Director Hunter jumped in, "I don't see why not."

Mr. Johnson followed up, "It's a meeting that's going to be held here. If you'd like, I'll put it on the City website and have a Chamber put it on their site. The objective of the meeting is obviously to get input from the public and feedback, so it would be to our advantage to do that. It's at 8:30 a.m. right here on the 16th."

The Committee

Chamber Director Decker told the Observer, "Glen [Hunter] called and asked if I could attend a meeting with him, Chamber President John Kuykendall, and Wendell [City Manager Johnson] to talk about the Blanche project. He wanted to tell us what the deal was – what they have been working on."

According to Ms. Decker the committee membership was chosen after Mr. Kuykendall left, by her, Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Hunter.

She said, "We just threw out names. There was really no scientific process... I want everybody to understand that everybody on this committee knows nothing more than they have read or heard."

The Objective

Mr. Johnson told the EDAB: The objective of the stakeholder meeting is to start discussing, and obviously, getting feedback and understanding of the Letter of Intent.

As reported earlier, the Letter of Intent has not been approved by the City Council and is being rewritten.

Mr. Johnson continued (as spoken), "Public input is to investment of tax money, taxpayer money -- those kinds of things. The impact analysis is gonna be really the foundation of what we have to compare our investment with. I don't think we'll have that by the 16th, but certainly I believe we'll have it by the first part of the year -- hopefully by the end of this month.

Stephen Douglas

EDAB member Stephen Douglas asked, "Wendell, what's the purpose of the Impact Analysis?

Mr. Johnson answered:

"The concept of the impact analysis is gonna determine what kind of revenue is gonna come into the project in the form of construction phases of it -- what is that gonna bring -- I don't know all of the actual model and the details... I'm not an expert on this kinda thing -- I'm familiar with em'. But it will give us an understandin' of I think to base judgment on this to whether or not the commitment that the tax hook that the city and the county -- the tax commitment of taxpayer dollars from the local level -- return on the investment is gonna be understood to a level of confidence."

More on the Committee with Ms. Decker

Your reporter asked, "How do you decide from the small handful of people on the committee whether or not everybody wants to renovate the Blanche?"

Ms. Decker answered, "We will have a town hall meeting in around January. When I found out today that I was the Chair I was a little taken aback, because I don't have the necessary information."

Ms. Decker explained that the short notice of the meeting caused it to be scheduled at 8:30 in the morning on December 16.

Ms. Decker wrapped it up, "I can understand how the public could be upset about the inconvenience of the early hour. This was not a slight to keep anybody out. I can assure the public that there will be times when they can voice their opinions."

A little while before post time, Ms. Decker followed up, "Not only will there be time for public opinion, but we want that opinion. If this project is something the community doesn't want, we need to know that."

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Links to more Blanche stories:

May 9, 2015  Frisina Swings the Vote, Blanche Ducks a TKO – Lake City, County, Developer Regrouping (Part II)

• May 8, 2015  Last Night The Blanche Ducks a TKO – Lake City, County, Developer Regrouping (Part I)

• March 11, 2015  Blanche Hotel: 6 Months & Counting – $14,000,000 Letter of Intent May Be Next Month

• Feb. 24, 2015  Blanche Hotel Train of Advisors Pulled into City Hall Last Night: Lots of Pictures - Not Much New

• Feb. 21, 2015  Blanche Saga Continues: $14,000,000 financing remains unexplained

• Feb. 3, 2015  Blanche $15 mil Renovation: CM Johnson Playing it Close to the Vest, "You'll know when I know"

• December 18, 2014 (Part II)  The Blanche: Johnson & Decker want inclusion "Anybody that wants a seat will have one"

• December 17, 2014 (Part I)  Lake City's Blanche Hotel: $15,000,000 Renovation Discussion Off & Running

• December 4, 2014  Renovation of Blanche Hotel on the Launching Pad:  Will everyone have a chance to participate?

• November 7, 2014  Lake City's Last Chance Hotel, the Blanche – Plans On the Way to the Columbia County 5

• November 4, 2014  City Manager Johnson: Working on a Plan to Raise the Blanche Hotel From the Dead

• March 4, 2010 The Blanche Hotel - The seventh inning stretch

 • Mar 1, 2010 The Blanche Group Bailout
Who are they? Where are they?

 • Mar 1, 2010  A Blanche Investor Interview

 • Feb 27, 2010  Structural Evaluation of the Blanche Hotel Now in the hands of the City Council

 • Oct 21, 2009 Conversation with Steve Smith -Blanche Investment Trust

 • Oct 21, 2009 City steps up • Councilman Hill wants slow down

 • Oct 21, 2009 The visit • The fire inspection

 • Oct 21, 2009 Go to Photo Gallery

 • Oct 9, 2009 City Steps Up To The Plate
Offers to buy Landmark Blanche Hotel