Unless Hammes suddenly unveils state-of-the-art robots whose capabilities render the workers of Engineers Local 139 useless, the Edgewater project will create jobs. The number and the duration is debatable, but the existence of new employment is not. But other economic questions remain unanswered. For instance, this one posed by Joe Tarr: Will the new hotel really bring more visitors to Madison?
Other hotel owners spoke out against the project, questioning Hammes' figures and saying a renovated Edgewater will merely cannibalize patrons from other downtown hotels, not draw more visitors to the city. It'll be years before we know whether that will happen, but the project is certain to alter the downtown hotel market. Will other hotel projects proposed near Monona Terrace materialize now?
If you're going to stay somewhere in Madison, the renovated Edgewater is definitely the place to go. The penthouse overlooking Mendota will be hard to beat. I would take that over the Concourse any day. What I suspect other Capitol-area hotels fear is that the Edgewater will be the luxury hotel of choice, stealing patrons from them, forcing them to lower their prices and court a cheaper clientele. For instance, the cheapest room at the Concourse appears to be $149. Will that price have to lower to compete with the sexy new lakefront rival?
What these other hoteliers better hope for is that a new hotel is enough to draw more visitors to Madison. So, how spectacular must the renovated Edgewater be to convince a couple Chicagoans to swerve wildly up the highway to spend a weekend in Madtown? Or are Appletonians the more likely target?
Madison would be wise to use the new terrace as a marketing tool. Views from the Memorial Terrace and Monona Terrace are already patented Madisonian images that play into the conception of our city as the ideal summer spot for R&R.