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Denton seeks input on project

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

Residents may air views on proposed convention center, full-service hotel

Residents have a chance to give feedback tonight on a proposed public-private partnership that could bring Denton its first convention center and only full-service hotel.

A public hearing is scheduled as part of the City Council’s regular meeting beginning at 6:30 tonight to discuss whether to form a tax-increment finance zone to help pay for the project. Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune said the public hearing is required by the Texas tax code, but that the city also wants to hear from residents.

“We’re hoping they will come and give us their views on the creation of the district,” Fortune said.

A tax-increment finance zone would use the value of the new hotel and its restaurant to capture about $13.6 million in new property taxes over the next 30 years. The money would help repay an anticipated $25 million in construction costs for the convention center.

The zone would be created on 13 acres of land owned by the University of North Texas that currently has no taxable value.

Residents must be present at the meeting in order to sign up for the public hearing, according to City Secretary Jennifer Walters. Some residents who are critical of the project have questioned whether the tax-increment finance zone can raise as much money over the life of the project as has been projected.

Denton resident David Zoltner said he plans to be at the hearing to get his questions answered. Because the zone has no plans for development other than a full-service hotel and restaurant adjacent to the convention center, he’s concerned about the viability of the project.

“How they are ever going to get anywhere close to the numbers they are projecting, is what I’m talking about,” Zoltner said.

Should the council agree to create the zone, the city staff would move to the next step, which would be to ask the county and the Denton school district to join the zone and contribute some of the revenue collected there to the project.

The Denton school board already has planned to receive testimony on the matter during its meeting next Tuesday.

Staff writer Britney Tabor contributed to this report.

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