September 22nd, 2008 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, City Hall

Metro Delays HQ Hotel Decision


Metro and City Hall have been trying to figure out how to prop up the Oregon Convention Center for nearly 20 years, so it's no great surprise that Metro announced today that it's going to need some more time to cobble together a financing package for a proposed 600-room headquarters hotel next to the Lloyd District convention center.

The current scheme involves the City of Portland using its AAA credit rating to issue debt to finance the project (most recent price tag: $247 million), but as the press release below indicates, a number of significant challenges remain.
Convention center headquarters hotel project timeline extended 75 days

Metro announced today that it will extend its review of the proposed 600-room publicly-owned and privately operated headquarters hotel near the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) until Dec. 18 to allow more time for negotiations on project cost reduction and financing for the visitor-funded facility.

The uncertainty of current market conditions, the commitment to fund the hotel using only existing funding sources and the need to coordinate multiple inter-governmental and public-private agreements have increased the complexity of the project's financing plan.

The delay will also allow for additional efforts to shave costs from the project. Since July, Metro's negotiating team has identified $7 million in cost savings.

Metro and the Metropolitan Exposition and Recreation Commission (MERC), in partnership with the City of Portland and Multnomah County, will continue to assess the feasibility of a fiscally sound financial plan.

"Metro, MERC and our partners at the city and county are continuing work with key regional players to identify solutions that will satisfy the fiscal expectations of the bonding institutions as well as financial obligations to our constituents," said Metro Councilor Rod Park. "We remain committed to protecting taxpayer's assets and the programs they rely on for critical services."

The previous timeline had called for Metro and its partners to make the next set of decisions on the project by Oct. 3. Despite the extension of the timeline, there will not be additional cost increases due to inflation or other factors.

"We acknowledge the progress made by the development team to reduce costs on what is a significant investment for this region," said Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder. "We will use the additional time to identify ways to reduce the budget further without compromising the objective of ensuring that the OCC continues to provide jobs and economic benefit to our region and the state."

Metro, MERC, Multnomah County, the City of Portland and the Portland Development Commission have all played an integral role in discussing possible solutions.

City Commissioner Sam Adams added, "We should take the necessary time to let the hotel team sharpen their pencils and see if we can fit the pieces into place while taking into account the economic environment we operate in."

Metro, the regional government that serves 1.4 million people who live in the 25 cities and three counties of the Portland metropolitan area, provides planning and other services that protect the nature and livability of our region. MERC is a service of Metro and manages the Portland Center for Performing Arts, OCC and Portland Expo Center.
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