Fort Worth has put on the back burner plans for a new convention center hotel after two developers who were invited to submit proposals for the project declined to do so.
Kirk Slaughter, the city’s director of facilities and public events, said Monday the developers both asked about economic incentives for the project. When they were told the city is not able to provide that kind of information right now, the developers backed off submitting their proposals, he said.
The developers also indicated some skittishness over recent declines in the stock market and getting involved in a multimillion-dollar project that will likely produce some financing gaps, Slaughter said.
The developers also wanted more information regarding the planned third expansion to the Fort Worth Convention Center, and when and how much it will cost to straighten Commerce Street on the east side of the convention center, he said.
Until the city can provide more information regarding those projects, Slaughter said they’ll have to delay the hotel project, likely until after 2025. The hotel can’t be built until the convention center expansion is done and the land on the east side of the facility is available.
The city began seeking developers for a 1,000-room convention center hotel last fall. Five developers submitted their qualifications, but only two were asked for proposals in December.
The project is part of a larger package of projects that includes the construction of a new $450 million multipurpose arena at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in the Cultural District. The city is paying for half of that project. The city will issue $200 million in debt for the project in 2017.
Financial forecasts predict the city won’t be able to take on more debt to cover the convention center expansion projects until 2025, a report to the City Council Tuesdaysays.
It is difficult for the city to provide assurances at this time on the timing and incentive possibilities due to the commitments on the other projects, specifically the new arena at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. As a result, the convention hotel project has been delayed.
Fort Worth City Council informal report
“It is difficult for the city to provide assurances at this time on the timing and incentive possibilities due to the commitments on the other projects, specifically the new arena at the Will Rogers Memorial Center,” the report says. “As a result, the convention hotel project has been delayed.”
The Omni Fort Worth Hotel on Houston Street on the west side of the convention center serves the facility. The $200 million 614-room hotel and 89 unit residential tower opened in 2009 after receiving $50 million in public incentives.
The remaining arena project costs will come from private sources through Event Facilities Fort Worth, a nonprofit group that will lease and operate the arena, expected to be completed and open by 2020.
For more than two decades, city officials have talked about tearing down the aged, domed arena at north end of the convention center, and replacing it with more ballroom and meeting space. That will occur now with the construction of the new arena.
Making the convention center improvements will open up some land on the east side of the convention center and is where the city proposes the additional hotel to serve the convention center. Market studies have shown the city need as many as 2,000 downtown hotel rooms to meet convention and tourism needs.
Until work on the convention center can begin, the city is looking at other options for attracting other hotel projects, Slaughter said.