Omni, Hyatt Interested in Pittsburgh's Convention Hotel

At least two major hotel chains, Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Irving, Texas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts, are interested in building a 500-room headquarters hotel next to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, local newspaper the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last week.

The two chains are among three hoteliers currently being evaluated by the Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA), which issued a request for proposals for the project earlier this year. The third contender has not been disclosed.

"We've received expressions of interest," SEA Executive Director Mary Conturo told the Post-Gazette. "We're in the process of further refining, evaluating and developing those expressions of interest to determine if an acceptable transaction can be put together."

City officials have been trying to build a convention hotel in Pittsburgh for nearly a decade. A previous attempt, by Cleveland developer Forest City Enterprises, fell apart due to a lack of funding that would have required the city to downsize the project to 300 rooms, which it was unwilling to do. To prevent a second funding conflict, Conturo said both Omni and Hyatt, as well as the unnamed third contender, are proposing public subsidies to help finance their projects.

Currently, the Westin Convention Center hotel is the only property serving Pittsburgh's convention center. A new hotel would nearly double the city's convention inventory from 616 to 1,116.