Metro Offers to Give Convention Center Hotel Opponents a Parking Lot

Government officials trying to build an Oregon Convention Center hotel have offered to give project opponent Gordon Sondland a parking lot in order to get him to drop three lawsuits against the project.

Sondland, CEO of Provenance Hotels, has been battling a headquarters hotel at the convention center for a decade. But he's now negotiating with Metro to let the project proceed.

WW reported Wednesday that Sondland told regional government Metro his company would drop its lawsuits against a Hyatt hotel and invest $10 million more in the project than Hyatt. In exchange, Sondland wants to kick Hyatt out so his company can own and run the hotel.

Metro's lawyers rejected the overture—and countered by offering Sondland a 1.6-acre parking lot.

Emails obtained by WW under state records law show Metro has offered a parking lot at the south end of the Oregon Convention Center, along Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The lot is valued at $2.5 million.

Metro officials say they would give Sondland the rights to the property for seven years, allowing Provenance to build anything it likes there—including a competing hotel.

"We are doing what we can to clear away hurdles to completing the project," says Andy Shaw, chief of staff for Metro Council President Tom Hughes.

Sondland's attorneys say they've rejected the counteroffer. John DiLorenzo, who represents a hotel coalition fighting the project in court, says Sondland offered to reduce taxpayer costs, and Metro responded with an offer that would increase the public expense.

"Our first option would be to not build it at all with a public subsidy," DiLorenzo tells WW. "But that ship's sailed with Metro. If they're going to make a mistake, make it with $10 million less."

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