North Texas Daily

Regents and city council to vote on convention center

Regents and city council to vote on convention center

Regents and city council to vote on convention center
December 03
08:56 2013

Javier Navarro / Staff Writer

The UNT Board of Regents and Denton city council will vote on a developer’s agreement in the next few days that could lead to the construction of a $25 million convention center and a $60 million full-service hotel and restaurant.

Both the convention and hotel could be located near the hill by Apogee Stadium.

The 100,000-square-foot convention center is designed to hold large events and meetings, Denton assistant city manager Jon Fortune said. The hotel will have 318 rooms and include a Houlihan’s restaurant.

Chancellor Lee Jackson said the convention center and hotel would be a great venue to hold meetings locally, and it can benefit both UNT and the city of Denton.

“We have a lot of meetings now that are pretty far away from our home,” Jackson said. “Every time we have to ask students, faculty or supporters to get in the cars or buses and go five or 10 miles away, we feel like as a university we’ve lost an opportunity to change that situation. It’s an economic impact for Denton and for us it’s an expansion of our mission as a full-service university.”

The Board of Regents will hold a meeting on Dec. 5 to vote on its part of the agreement and the Denton city council will vote on Dec. 10.

If agreements are met, plans for the convention center and hotel will enter a feasibility period, which can last a few months.

During the feasibility period, the city will go over the convention center design as well as look at documents and financing, which show the city that the developer and investors can support the project, Fortune said.

Jackson said if the city sees that the developer can deliver and shows it can make the project happen, the project would go forward as planned.

“Usually, if [the developer] has done good preparatory work, if the developer has lined up solid sources of funding, then feasibility becomes just another step in preparation and everything goes smoothly,” Jackson said.

The city can also back out or delay the project if it’s not feasible.

Jackson said the idea for the convention center and hotel has been in planning for about four years, when one firm approached city leaders about developing it but backed out later on. O’Reilly Hospitality Management, based out of Springfield, Mo., revived the plans last year.

The city of Denton will own and fund the convention center through the issuance of Certificates of Obligation Bonds, Fortune said. O’Reilly Hotel Partners-Denton will fund and own the hotel and restaurant.

Radio, television and film junior Anteneh Gebre said as a student, he wouldn’t mind a convention center and hotel being brought to UNT since the school isn’t funding it.

“I think it’s a great addition to the city of Denton, and it will also be great for the university,” Gebre said. “Since the construction will be taking place off campus, I don’t mind it.”

Once everything has come into an agreement, construction will begin. When construction is over and the convention center opens, the city will have 25 years to pay it off, according to Fortune.

If all agreements are met, construction could begin as early as next year.

The University Of North Texas System Board of Regents. Pictured above (left-right): Don Potts, Gwyn Shea, Brint Ryan, Milton Lee, Al Silva, Rudy Reynoso, Mike Bradford, Glen Whitley, Steve Mitchell, Rusty Reid. Photo courtesy of North Texas System Board Of Regents.

The University Of North Texas System Board of Regents. Pictured above (left-right): Don Potts, Gwyn Shea, Brint Ryan, Milton Lee, Al Silva, Rudy Reynoso, Mike Bradford, Glen Whitley, Steve Mitchell, Rusty Reid. Photo courtesy of North Texas System Board Of Regents.

Feature photo: The map shows a new convention center and hotel development. The UNT Board of Regent and Denton City Council will vote on a development agreement that could lead to a $25 million convention center and $60 million hotel. The new convention center is planned to be located near the hilltop near Apogee Stadium. Map courtesy of Lindsay Baker

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