Herbert: ‘Pretty clear’ deal will go forward

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Despite the Industrial Development Authority’s decision last Friday to defer progress on the Constant’s Wharf hotel project, the city is moving forward with plans for a January groundbreaking.

&uot;The City Council has made known its intention to proceed,&uot; said Assistant City Manager Steve Herbert. &uot;…It’s pretty clear the deal is going to go forward.&uot;

On Friday, during a special meeting, the council voted 6-1 to amend its cooperation agreement with the IDA to build a 14,000-square-foot conference center and 150-room Hilton Garden Inn.

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The amended agreement includes several changes, including increasing the size of the conference center and increasing the city’s investment from $12 million to $13. million.

The council also agreed to use $2 million in city property as collateral on the hotel developer’s loan and to set aside $500,000 in city funds in case there are operating problems

The council’s vote came less than an hour after the IDA voted 4-2 to defer the $22 million project indefinitely, giving some members time to study additional changes to the hotel’s master development plan.

Apparently, some members were concerned about plans for the IDA to provide a $2 million letter of credit – secured by property in Northgate and Suffolk industrial parks – backing the developer’s $6 million loan from Towne Bank.

IDA members G. Stewart Tyler, Mills March, Vernon Williams and Paul Scott voted to defer the project. On Monday, none of those members were willing to discuss their decisions.

IDA members with additional questions or concerns will have as much time as they need to further review the proposed changes to the master agreement, Herbert said.

The agreement will come back up for a second vote, he said.

IDA member Dennis Gartman, who missed last Friday’s meeting due to a business trip in Arizona, said he would support the project.

&uot;I was stunned that it didn’t go through,&uot; said Gartman. &uot;I am strongly in favor of this project.

&uot;If I had been there, I would have voted for it – no ifs, ands or buts.&uot;