HONOR THE PAST. WELCOME THE FUTURE.
The Laredo Conference Center will be nestled adjacent to the historic La Posada Hotel with a beautiful view of the Rio Grande. Set amid a rich cultural landscape with deep historical roots, the Center will bring a touch of modern innovation to provide a decidedly unique experience for conferences, meetings and events. Once complete, the Center will bring new energy, economic investment and sustainable growth to the area.
The Center is being designed and developed through the joint efforts of the City of Laredo, Fasken, Ltd. and the Fasken family, who have long been committed to honoring Laredo’s history and culture and sharing in its vision of the future. The project is further supported by various other city, county and federal offices and organizations.
The partnership between the City of Laredo and Palafox Hospitality (a division of Fasken, Ltd.) continues to be a positive and productive one. Collaborating with other organizations important to the project’s success, such as Webb County, the General Services Administration, U.S. Customs & Border Protection, and the Webb County Heritage Foundation adds another layer of support to the Laredo Conference Center project’s foundation. With many other conversations and collaborations in the works, it’s an exciting time for the development of this economic driver for Laredo. A Memorandum of Understanding was entered into by the City of Laredo and Palafox in December 2017.
“We are excited for the favorable possibilities that a conference center project can bring to our downtown, to our city. The Center will be part of that infrastructure mix that complements and helps drive economic growth. We are looking forward to seeing that positive impact realized.”
– Pete Saenz Mayor, City of Laredo
“We are honored at the opportunity to join the City of Laredo in planning and developing this amazing project, and showcase our past, while keeping our view toward an even brighter future for this great community.”
– Norbert Dickman, General Manager, Fasken, Ltd.
Currently in the conceptual design and feasibility phase, the Laredo Conference Center is designed to embrace Laredo’s culture, honor its history and facilitate its vision for the future. The project will create a state-of-the-art conference center with two restored historic properties – Casa Ortiz and 907 Zaragoza – at its heart. Conveniently adjacent to La Posada Hotel, another historic Laredo property, the completed Center will provide conference facilities otherwise not available within a 150-mile radius.
- A 21,600-SF column-free ballroom able to seat approximately 1,270
- Six meeting rooms
- Two board rooms
- Built-in audio and a/v systems with excellent sound separation
- Two outdoor terraces totaling approximately 10,000 SF
- Full service kitchen
- Outdoor catering capacity
- Additional 9,650 SF of special event and meeting space at 907 Zaragoza and 915 Zaragoza (Casa Ortiz)
- Conclude building design and programming to finalize probable costs
- Continue coordination with Webb County, TAMIU and the Webb County Heritage Foundation for the integration of Casa Ortiz into the center
- Continue coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and General Services Administration for the integration of the riverfront property for center improvements and parking
- Continue with financial studies including establishing operation costs and center financing
INTEGRATING HISTORY INTO A DISTINCT SETTING
With the restoration of the 907 and 915 Zaragoza (Casa Ortiz) historic homes, which date back to 1872 and 1830 respectively, the Laredo Conference Center project blends the rich flavor of historic Laredo with what will be a beautifully designed, state-of-the-art conference and conference center. All of this is distinctly located at the riverfront amid the historic St. Agustin Cathedral, which dates from 1872, the La Posada Hotel, the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum constructed in 1830, and the Rio Grande River to the south. It is poised to offer a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Center’s contemporary design will incorporate the latest in advanced audio/visual equipment and technology with highly flexible spaces to accommodate a wide-range of functions. With a full-service kitchen for indoor and outdoor events, the facility will feature services and areas that can be customized to any group’s needs.
Curious about the Laredo Conference Center? Get your feet wet with the specifics of this exciting riverfront project coming to Laredo. Reference documents, calendar of upcoming events and the option to request a presentation are available here.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Hotel Occupancy Tax and the Car Rental Tax are charged to and paid by persons that rent a hotel room or car.
State law requires that hotel occupancy taxes only be used to directly enhance and promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry. They may not be used for other local purposes.
The size and amenities of the center are being determined through a combination of data-driven research, analysis and projections from independent consulting firms and based on existing and prospective tourism segments, and quantity and sizes of conferences and events. At present, the facility includes a 21,600 SF column-free ballroom (for approximately 1,270 persons), 6 Meeting rooms, 2 Board rooms, 1 Gallery, and 9,650 SF of special event space in the homes located at 907 and 915 Zaragoza (Casa Ortiz).
The Laredo Conference Center will stimulate economic development and revitalization in and around the downtown area and across the city by increasing visitors and business activity. Along with other projects such as the renovation of the San Agustin Cathedral and the Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, the Laredo Conference Center will be part of the infrastructure that makes downtown a popular venue for locals as well as visitors.
The proposed Conference center is expected to stimulate economic development and revitalization in and around the downtown area and the city by increasing visitors, business activity; and, as a result, attract new dollars. Along with other on-going projects in the downtown (such as new businesses in the arts and entertainment district, the renovation of the San Agustin Cathedral, the Outlet Shoppes at Laredo, and the presence of shops along Avenida San Bernardo), the Conference center will be part of the infrastructure that can align such projects’ objectives to make downtown a place-making venue for locals as much as conventioneers and tourists. In Laredo, aside from the sales tax contributions, the travel and tourism industry directly employs more than 6,000 persons. For more information on the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry across the state and locally, please visit the Texas Travel Facts – Economic Impact.
No. The construction of the Laredo Conference Center will be financed by an estimated $12 million in proceeds from the sale of the former civic center property, $4 million in capital improvement funds, approximately $12 to $18 million to be raised from hotel occupancy and car rental tax revenue resulting from the passage of Proposition B on the November 6, 2018 election, which would increase a 2% tax on hotel rooms and a 5% tax on rental vehicles paid by visitors, not by local residents. Additionally, the State portion of the Hotel and Occupancy Tax generated by La Posada Hotel for ten years, given Laredo’s 2017 designation as an Eligible Central Municipality by the Texas legislature, will also be used to support the center.
Palafox proposes to manage the operations of the Conference Center, in coordination with appropriate City staff, further assuring the private partner has a stake in the continued success of the Center. The Center will be opened to the public and for all other hotels to use.
The project team is evaluating recent traffic studies conducted to assure all traffic options are explored for ingress and egress into the riverfront and other impacted areas. San Agustin Avenue, at the La Posada Hotel garage end, is expected to be extended into the riverfront parking area behind the Conference Center and hotel, to help move traffic off the plaza area and into the riverfront.
The City of Laredo and its residents will be the 100-percent owners of the Conference Center, even though Palafox will contribute more than $17 million to the overall project, including hotel improvements.
The project is currently in the conceptual design and feasibility phase, and the team is working to produce a preliminary design and size, and address due diligence items. Once the conceptual design is approved, the preliminary probable costs are expected in late spring and will be made available to the public.
As an attraction, the downtown offers excellent connectivity and walkability, and a sense of place, a mix of the historic and culture, Mexico, and the Rio Grande. Just as importantly, the Conference Center location is connected to the largest, full-service hotel in Laredo – La Posada. When considering venues for conferences and conventions, one of the main decision points for event planners is whether there is a large enough host hotel available and whether the event space is onsite or adjacent to the hotel.
The project is proposed to be financed using local public funds, but also private funds contributed by Palafox Hospitality, Ltd (Fasken). The Memorandum of Understanding sets forth a framework where the City of Laredo will cover the project construction costs, while the Fasken group will donate land it owns to the City and pay for Conference center feasibility, planning and environmental studies, architectural and engineering design fees, project development costs, and construction management costs.