The city has delayed consideration of the proposed convention center’s construction originally planned for Tuesday, officials announced Thursday.
The move came after about 100 residents turned out for a neighborhood meeting on the project Wednesday night at the Courthouse on the Square. Some residents spoke in support of the project, but others were concerned that taxpayers would be left holding the bag if it does not succeed. The convention center is part of a proposed public-private partnership that would bring a 100,000-square-foot convention center and an accompanying upscale, full-service hotel and restaurant beside Apogee Stadium.
The city originally gave interested contractors until June 17 to return a guaranteed maximum price bid. The city extended the deadline after a few contractors requested more time, according to city spokeswoman Alison Ream.
As a result, the staff is still evaluating the bids and the City Council is not expected to review the matter before August.
The city spent about $200,000 on construction documents, which were drawn to 35 percent completion, before putting them out for bid. Officials have estimated that the convention center will cost about $25 million to build. A developer, O’Reilly Hospitality Partners Denton, would build the accompanying hotel and restaurant for an estimated $60 million. The entire project is planned for 13 acres of University of North Texas land along Interstate 35E.
Agreements between the city and the developer have provided for a “feasibility period” during which both parties could walk away from the project if construction bids come in too high. The developer also has the option to walk away from the deal if either Denton County or the Denton school district decline to contribute property tax income to the project.
The city estimates it will cost about $2 million per year to repay the bonds that fund construction. The developer has agreed to make up the difference between the city’s revenue from the project and the bond payments any year it comes up short. But the developer agreed only if the city asked the county and school district to contribute a portion of their property tax revenue from the project, too.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.