Sunday, June 14, 2015

When you wish upon a star

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.*
                                               -William Shakespeare

"The stars my destination" **

You might recall that providing amenities for "the affluent" is one of the core business strategies for DMC. A brief refresher:
"There is an affluence that is used to the type of restaurants that you can get in New York City," Carlson said last year. 
That's why Destination Medical Center proponents have talked openly about wanting to attract five-star [emphasis added] hotels and high-end restaurants to Rochester. 3.24.14
Now the big shiny of amenities for the affluent is apparently a "five-star" anything. The star rating system for hotels has been around since 1958 when it was introduced by the Mobil Travel Guide - now, the Forbes Travel Guide. Star ratings get used for all sorts of things now - even hospitals.

Anyway, the big assumption is that there is an affluence that is used to getting what it wants and to get the affluent you need to give them what they are used to getting. Unfortunately, it seems, Rochester just isn't up to snuff amenities-wise. DMCC board member Bill George said of the Kahler Hotel at a meeting a few months ago, "I'm sorry, it just doesn't cut it." George seems to be piling on a bit here. The Kahler Hotel only has a three-star rating - but hey: location, location, location.

"My God, it's full of stars." ***

Given the importance of five-star hotels for enticing the affluent to receive health care in Rochester, it is no surprise that the DMC plan - sorry, framework - would provide for this essential amenity. 
275-Unit Luxury Hotel - Associated Bank Project*. According to the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Associated Bank Building was purchased by an investment group within the past year and will be converted into a hotel within the next few years. Preliminary plans call for a mixed-use development with a 275-unit luxury/upscale hotel that would be connected to the Mayo Clinic via skyway. AECOM assumed this project will open in 2017. 
AECOM - one of the DMC sub consultants - was hired to do the DMC market analysis. When it came to hotels, they hired an outfit called PKF Consulting USA (PKF) to evaluate the Rochester hotel market. PKF then bought the data they used from Smith Travel Research (STR). STR doesn't use stars, but "luxury" is pretty much a five-star rating.

Notice that after spending several hundred thousand dollars on a market consultant - sorry, sub-consultant - who in turn hires a sub-sub-consultant, who in turn purchases data from a sub-sub-sub-consultant, the conclusion that the affluent will get the "luxury/five-star" hotel amenities they require to receive health care in Rochester is based on something somebody at the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) said they heard somebody (we don't know who) say about someone who bought a building.

Not to brag, but I could have told them the same thing: "According to Dave Beal, who heard it at a local coffee shop, the people who bought the Associated Bank Building are going to build a five-star hotel there." But, coming from me - and I did hear this at a coffee shop - it looks like a rumor. Coming from the CVB it looks like...well, it just sounds better, I guess.

Better, but not all that much better which is why there is an "*". AECOM had the good sense to give itself an out.
*Although these projects have been announced, they are still in early concept phases and may or may not be developed as described. Listing these projects should not be considered an endorsement. Should one or more of these projects not come to fruition, there is sufficient market demand for similarly scaled hotels to be developed. DMC Development Plan, Volume II - Planning Documents, Section 5.0, page 39 [emphasis added] 
This note is just AECOM's way of saying, "Hey, we're not saying it will happen, but it could."

Well, actually maybe it couldn't.

"Don't let the stars get in your eyes..." ****

Bloom International Realty is the Abu Dhabi investment group that purchased (for $7 million cash) the Associated Bank Building. Bloom now has an exclusive deal with the city to sit for six-months on a piece of land on the west bank of the South Fork of the Zumbro River and ponder what they might make happen there. Here's what we are told will NOT happen there - a five-star hotel.
Since Bloom purchased the Associated Bank Building in 2013 for $7 million, the speculation has been that the wealthy development firm would build a five-star hotel in downtown Rochester. Elkhalifataha said that will not happen. The firm's analysis has shown that Rochester cannot support a full, five-star hotel. They do hope to build a very nice hotel, he said, which may include an upscale section or some five-star features. While Bloom has a lot of money to invest, he said the bottom line is to have a profitable project. 6.5.15 [emphasis added]
Now Abu Dhabi knows a few things about five star hotels - heck some claim the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi is a seven-star hotel - though they officially only use five. But, for Rochester: a "very nice hotel" with maybe with some five-star stuff to get some rooms up to snuff.

Well, if there won't be enough affluent coming to Rochester for their health care to support a five-star hotel ('the bottom line is to have a profitable project"), then maybe it's not a five-star hotel that attracts the affluent but the affluent that attracts a five-star hotel. 

If there are not enough affluent to attract a five-star hotel, will there be enough:
Wealthy patients, who can pay out-of-pocket for executive-health services, Sports Medicine Center strength and speed training, wellness and prevention related to such topics as nutrition [who] have the potential to help defray low reimbursement for uncompensated care and Medicaid. 3.24.14
The whole DMC strategy of getting the wealthy - sorry, affluent - here in the first place is to defray the cost of providing services to the not-at-all affluent, the not-even-close-never-gonna-be affluent. In other words, the poor. Are we looking at an Affluence Gap?

"When you wish upon a star...."*****

I'm sure it will all get sorted out. The stars will align in the heavens and all will be well. Maybe they have aligned already in ways that were unexpected.

Remember above I mentioned that star ratings get applied to all sorts of things, even hospitals? Well, maybe a four-star hotel is just what the doctor ordered.
Looking to make it easier to compare hospitals, the federal government has started awarding star ratings to medical centers based on patients' appraisals. 
A few five-star hospitals are part of well-respected systems, such as the Mayo Clinic's hospitals in Phoenix, Jacksonville, Fla. and New Prague, Minn. Mayo's flagship hospital in Rochester, Minn., received four stars. CNNMoney (New York) 5.1.15 [emphasis added]


Notes ******

Though it is often cited, this line does not appear in any work of William Shakespeare. It is generally regarded to be based on this line from Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2 of Cato speaking to Brutus: 
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Doesn't seem to me to carry the same meaning, but it works as well in this context - maybe better. 
The Stars My Destination is a science fiction novel by Alfred Bester. The title "The Stars My Destination" appears in a quatrain quoted by the protagonist, Gully Foyle: 

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination

“My god, it’s full of stars” is a phrase associated the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey” as David Bowman enters the star gate created by the monolith orbiting Jupiter. It was not uttered in the "2001: A Space Odyssey", but opens the film sequel "2010: The Year We Make Contact."

"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" was written by Slim Willet and was published in 1952. The song was recorded in many different styles by many artists. Here's a version by K.D. Lang that includes the lyrics.

"When You Wish Upon a Star" is written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for the 1940 Walt Disney film "Pinocchio". Sung by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket.

Since the asterisk plays so important a role in the hotel market portion of the DMC plan, I thought I might also put it to good use. "Asterisk" comes from the Latin asteriscus, "little star". Asterisks can be used to indicate footnotes. Multiple asterisks distinguish multiple notes. I needed six little stars to track my notes.  Variations of the asterisk are sometimes used as an element in graphic designs. For example:
Is it significant, I wonder, that the asterisk is so prominent an element in the DMC logo? Or that it appears in the upper left hand corner of every page of the DMC plan? Have they been trying to tell us something all along? You don't suppose this "*" in the logo is just DMC's way of saying, "Hey, we're not saying it will happen, but it could."?

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