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UNT moves forward on deal

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

The University of North Texas Board of Regents on Thursday endorsed plans for a full-service hotel and convention center in Denton and authorized the chancellor to finalize a deal with the city.

Officials at UNT and the city are still wrestling over some of the smaller details of agreements with the project developer.

“The board has determined it is in the best interest of the system and UNT to enter agreements with appropriate conditions to support the development of the hotel, restaurant and convention center complex,” according to a motion approved by regents at their regular meeting Thursday.

Terms of a sublease between UNT and O’Reilly Hospitality Management Partners were not finalized in time for the meeting, according to university spokeswoman Kelley Reese.

Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune said the regents’ move doesn’t change plans to put the matter before the Denton City Council for a vote Tuesday.

“We see this as an endorsement of the project,” Fortune said.

The development group is expected to invest about $60 million to build the full-service hotel that would be managed, along with the convention center, by Missouri-based O’Reilly Hospitality Management.

The entire project is planned for property owned by UNT along Interstate 35E, next to Apogee Stadium.

Terms for a 50-year lease between the city and UNT are essentially settled, according to Denton officials.

The city would pay the university $1 per year for the first 25 years as it pays off an anticipated $25 million in certificates of obligation that would fund the convention center’s construction. The city could automatically renew the lease with UNT for two 10-year periods.

Beginning in the 26th year, the city would pay rent of $175,000 per year. That base rate would increase every 10 years until the final decade of the agreement, which states that in years 66-70, the city would pay $327,930 per year.

UNT would allow the city to use extra parking around Apogee Stadium for convention center events so long as there is no home game or other major event at the stadium. UNT agreed to build a road connecting the two parking lots.

Fortune said the university’s sublease with O’Reilly isn’t part of the city’s agreements in the deal.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.