Council to vote on luxury convention center hotel Tuesday

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OKLAHOMA CITY - City leaders will determine the fate of a $235 million convention center hotel to accompany a voter-approved project.

The city council is set to take up plans Tuesday for an Omni Hotel, complete with 600 rooms, retail and several restaurants, which could add $75 million in revenue down the line.

"The new convention center hotel is essential to making sure the new convention center is as successful as it could be," said Cathy O'Connor, executive director of the Alliance for Economic Development. "In order for that convention center to be as successful as it possibly can be, it needs a large-scale hotel to support the meetings it can accommodate."

The convention center is a project voters approved as part of MAPS 3. It will be situated between the Chesapeake Arena and I-40 just east of the under-construction MAPS park.

It is designed to replace the Cox Convention Center, O'Connor said, and many large-scale events will be shifted once the new venue opens.

While the Omni is proposing putting up more than $150 million to make the hotel happen, Oklahoma City will contribute about $85 million - a figure that will actually balloon to above $130 million when factoring in interest to repay bonds, O'Connor said.

That money will come from revenue generated by the to-be-built hotel, past projects like the Skirvin Hotel and other lease payments and tax allocations.

Taxes will not increase, O'Connor said.

"It is taxes that are already being generated within the local economy or that will be generated by this new hotel that will then be pledged to make this new hotel happen," she said. "We have the resources within the current tax structure."

Some members of the city council in the past have signaled they are hesitant to move forward with the plan for a hotel.

Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner told the public in September 2016 the $85 million is "just too much for my palate" and suggested the hotel be part of a new MAPS proposal.

Before supporting the idea, Ward 4 Councilman Pete White described the addition of a hotel as "money that wasn't contemplated publicly at the time MAPS was passed."

At the same meeting, Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid told the council the people should have some say if they are subsidizing the project.

"There wasn’t a need for the public to vote on a tax increase," O'Connor told NewsChannel 4 in response. "We have the resources within our local tax structure to handle this project."

Omni tells NewsChannel 4 its agreement with Oklahoma City is in line with, or less than, other deals Omni has recently done in Louisville and Nashville.

As part of the agreement with the City, Omni has the first opportunity to redevelop the Cox Convention Center.

The city is also promising no new hotels will be built on the site for 10 years and no hotels with more than 200 rooms will be built for 20 years.

The City Council meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning in the municipal building.

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