Background

  • In 2004, the Board of the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority (LCCCA) was faced with challenges related to finalization of documents for the implementation of a public-private venture to develop a 200,000–square-foot, $145M hotel and convention center project in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The project had been in the planning stages for more than seven years and a critical milestone was fast approaching concerning the future of the project.
     
  • The LCCCA Board and Penn Square Partners, the private partner in the transaction, had previously retained Herman Bulls and another consultant to jointly review the project and to make recommendations for aligning interests of the various parties.
     
  • Subsequent to the project review, the LCCCA Board retained Bulls Advisory Group (BAG) to provide personal coaching, leadership development and organizational structure review services to its executive director. For ongoing project assistance, the LCCCA also retained BAG as executive strategic and real estate advisor.

Initiatives

  • BAG conducted a 60-day assessment to outline the major development and organizational issues related to the implementation of the public-private partnership with Penn Square Partners. This process included completing extensive interviews with the LCCCA executive director and board members, legal counsel, consultants, as well as local and state government officials.
     
  • The results of the assessment were briefed to the board and the executive director. Recommendations were made concerning a new strategy, structure, and systems and staffing plan for the management of the project.
     
  • As the chief advisor to the executive director, BAG’s specific duties include managing the team of five project consultants (legal, public relations, marketing, financial advisor and construction management) and providing integrated recommendations to the Executive Director on financial, construction management, development, marketing, hospitality and historic preservation matters.
     
  • BAG also reviewed all project consultants’ roles and realigned responsibilities, taking on the roles of financial advisor, public relations and MBE/WBE administrator.
     
  • As the MBE/WBE liaison, we reviewed inclusion and participation of in-project bids. We also issued abatement, demolition and stabilization bids.

Results

  • LCCCA realized an immediate savings of over $500,000 by consolidating consultant roles and better managing project resources.
     
  • Management of the development process was brought in-house, providing greater control and accountability, and reducing development expenditures by $36,000 per month.
     
  • After extensive negotiations with Penn Square Partners, the public-private partnership was structured utilizing state grants, bond issuances, private financing, hotel sale/leaseback and other available funding programs. A sophisticated “tiered” system was also created to address any funding gaps.
     
  • BAG prepared numerous board presentations on strategic matters including financial alternatives, variance analysis, MBE/WBE plan and process, risks and implications, press releases, and talking points for media interviews.
     
  • A five-year financial comparative and variance analysis was completed and a new cash-flow forecasting system was implemented.
     
  • An outside special counsel was retained to handle hotel room revenue county tax issues, averting conflict from existing counsel and solicitor firm.

BAG provides ongoing review of the development process, organizational structure, finance and operations. For more information, please contact Herman Bulls at Herman.Bulls@Bullsadvisorygroup.com or (202)256-1814.

 


 

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