First-class hotel could be coming to Arlington entertainment district

Posted Thursday, Apr. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON - Though mum on the specifics, Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said Thursday that developers are seriously looking to bring a first-class hotel and a new entertainment venue to the city's entertainment district.

Arlington has been working since 2008 to attract a private developer to expand the Convention Center on Ballpark Way and to build an adjacent first-class hotel. Those additions would help the city attract larger meetings and conventions to the center as well as entice tourists visiting Arlington's sporting venues or theme parks to stay in town overnight instead of leaving for Dallas or Fort Worth hotels, Cluck said.

"We've been working to get a new hotel in the entertainment district. That's no secret. We're finally once again making progress on that front. I feel more positive about it now than I have for several months," Cluck said. "I'm not saying we are going to get it but the next several months will be very important."

Convention Center Director Mark Wisness said a handful of developers have expressed interest in the project but no serious proposals have come forward to the city recently. Arlington has $150,000 budgeted this fiscal year to vet convention-hotel proposals but so far most of the money has remained unspent, Wisness said.

"There have been tire kickers for three or four years now. Some proposals come through. I have seen a couple of them but I haven't seen the money," Wisness said.

The Arlington Convention Center has lost business because of the meeting and exhibit space limitations and shortage of entertainment and hotel options for convention and meeting visitors, Wisness said.

"The product is totally underdeveloped. That is what our customers say too. We don't have enough first-class hotels in our entertainment district," Wisness said. "There is not enough entertainment. I'm not talking about Six Flags or games or restaurants. It's more of the night life, the Sixth Street-type entertainment people can go to. We don't have that."

A few years ago, Arlington declined to move forward a $115 million proposal by Highgate Holdings to expand the Sheraton hotel by 300 rooms and to build an additional 53,000 square feet of exhibit space, 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms and a 900-space parking garage for the convention center.

While speaking to the Rotary Club of Arlington on Thursday, Cluck hinted that a major entertainment venue in another city is also seeking to relocate near the baseball and football stadiums but he declined to elaborate.

"We have an opportunity to bring a major venue to town. We have our plans on that," said Cluck, adding that the proposed move likely wouldn't happen before 2014.

- This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock

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