Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
The City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a memorandum of understanding with a developer to build a $90 million hotel next to the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas. The agreement with Mortenson Development, Inc. is an initial step in the development of a hotel near the Convention Center – a request that officials and business leaders have had for years.
With the new hotel neighboring the Convention Center, City leaders are hoping to bring in more businesses, conferences and events that could spur development in the Urban Center.
“The Convention Center will be able to have bigger conventions where people can stay multiple days,” Councilman Brad LaMorgese said. “If you look at this hotel, what do people like to do when they go to conventions? They like to go out to eat, and I think with this, some of the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to get Las Colinas where people want it.”
The hotel will be either a Marriott or Starwood and will have at least 350 rooms and 20,000 square feet of meeting space. Under the agreement, the City would spend $9 million to build a parking garage and sky bridge. In return, the hotel would be eligible for city and state tax rebates, according to City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.
The City Council reviewed four proposals from developers in executive session.
“The (proposal) was the best in terms of overall what we wanted and what they were willing to do,” Gonzalez said.
The City Council still has to vote on a final contract with Minneapolis-based Mortenson Development. Negotiations could take up to 90 days.
If approved, groundbreaking on the hotel could be as early as December with the hotel finished by 2015.
The Las Colinas-Irving Convention and Visitors Bureau committee has also voiced support of the deal, Council member Roy Santoscoy said.
The hotel was originally conceived as an asset for an entertainment center, which was to also be built near the Convention Center. However, the entertainment center project stalled in the fall when the City Council voted down a resolution to extend negotiations with the project’s developer.
Parts of a lawsuit filed by Las Colinas Group shortly after the vote have since been dismissed.