Metro President Tom Hughes today took an aggressive step to move forward with development of a $200 million Hyatt Hotel adjacent to the Oregon Convention Center.
The three government agencies involved in the project—the City of Portland, Multnomah County and Metro—all approved it last year. But opponents, led by downtown hotelier Gordon Sondland, have attempted to block the deal—first at the ballot and now in the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Today, Metro filed an unusual request in Multnomah County Court, seeking what's called a "validation action."
Metro is asking a judge to review the process it's followed to reach the deal's current state, in which the regional government is in final negotiations of an agreement with Hyatt and Mortenson Development.
In Tacoma, where Sondland's company is also a major player in the hotel market, Sondland's representatives tied up a waterfront development for more than four years.
Through its filing today, Metro is seeking to pre-empt similar delays.
Metro's legal tactic is unrelated to a current case pending in the Oregon Court of Appeals. In that case, a Sondland-backed group, called the Coalition for Fair Budget Priorities, wants Multnomah County voters to decide whether or not the hotel should be built.
Here's Hughes' statement from Metro News on today's move:
It is unfortunate for Oregon workers and local business owners that a small but well-funded group of opponents seeks to obstruct and delay this important project. This group has filed lawsuit after lawsuit to halt progress and their track record suggests more are on the way.
To avoid future costly delays, today Metro exercised our rights under ORS 33.710 by filing a Validation Action in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
Oregon law provides local governments such as Metro with the ability to ask a court to confirm the legality of an action they have taken and address other potential concerns at the same time. The effect is that local governments can address the issues in many potential lawsuits at once by asking the court to examine their work in detail.
Metroâs action asks the court to review the legal decisions upon which the convention hotel project is based.