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City officials support T&P project, but cost of plan draws concern

City officials said Tuesday that they support converting the Texas & Pacific Terminal Building into an upscale hotel, but the project may cost too much.






Developers of the T&P building, located at Lancaster Avenue and Throckmorton Street, want the city to create a special authority to help finance the $50 million renovation and hotel construction project with tax-free bonds.






Under the plan, the authority would own the hotel and the developers would hire a hotel management company to run it. Within 10 years, the hotel could revert to private ownership and go back on the tax rolls.






But city officials said their first priority is paying for the proposed Fort Worth Convention Center hotel, which is estimated to cost between $70 million and $80 million and is scheduled to be open in late 2003 or early 2004.






The T&P developers] )] "are going to submit a financial plan," Assistant City Manager Mike Groomer said. "If it works, and doesn't interfere with our ability to do the Convention Center hotel, then it sounds like a great idea.






"But we try not to put the city in a position that doesn't make good financial sense."






Preliminary plans for the T&P building call for the 1931 art deco structure to be turned into a four-star, railroad-themed hotel of 290 to 330 rooms.






Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has expressed interest in operating the facility, which could open in late 2002 or early 2003, developers Ed Casebier and Tom Blanton said.






Casebier and Blanton said they would be willing to put up about 20 percent, or $10 million, of the project's costs, but that the city-created authority would have to assume the rest of the debt for the tax-free bonds.






The council's economic development committee is expected to discuss the proposal in a few weeks.






"We want to be supportive," said Councilman Jeff Wentworth, who is chairman of the committee. "It just all depends on what the financial request is."






Ginger D. Richardson, (817) 390-7616 [email protected]




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Copyright 2001 Star-Telegram, Inc.

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Ginger D. Richardson