FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Local officials celebrate The Omni Fort Lauderdale Hotel, which will be adjacent to the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
Despite criticism about the source of the funding, Broward County Mayor Michael Udine was in a celebratory mood on Wednesday.
Udine said the Broward County government-owned modern 29-story hotel with 800 rooms is “a victory” for residents.
“Our airport is here. Our port is here. Our convention center is here. This is really a class A type of destination,” Udine said also adding it will help to keep the convention center competitive.
Monica Cepero, the Broward County administrator, said the project is also creating more than a thousand construction jobs and about 1,300 jobs in hospitality.
“This is transformational for our community ... it’s more money, flushed right into our economy,” Cepero said.
Last month, Republicans in Congress cited the luxury hotel as an example of Democrats’ out-of-control spending since $140 million in federal COVID relief funds were being used. Some Democrats were also outraged.
“They are basically money laundering funding that is meant to help communities that are suffering,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., said.
The Associated Press reported the county’s Feb. 22 meeting agenda details how commissioners transferred the federal funds to the county’s general fund to cover lost tax revenue and then transferred it back to the project.
Cepero defended the decision. She and other officials put that behind them. On Wednesday, Cepero said auditors gave the green light on the funding.
“We have used general fund dollars and the bonds we are signing today,” Cepero said.