For almost two years the hotel and convention center at the MPEC has been in talks, but after a recent 4B meeting, those discussions could soon turn into action, in the form of a multi-million-dollar loan.
The 4B corporation and Gatehouse Capital, a hotel development company, have been trying to come to an agreement on the financing for the hotel for some time but now the two parties are getting close.
“Those terms are being reviewed right now with the attorneys and legal parties of both entities and the lending institution,” said Jim Dockery, deputy city manager. “We want to make sure we are all in agreement. The major terms and conditions seem to be agreeable to everyone but there is still some additional work left.”
Dockery said they should know for sure within the next two weeks or so. One concern from residents is that building the hotel will cause property taxes to go up, but Dockery said that’s not the case.
“We are not using any form of property taxation to build the facility,” Dockery said. “What we are looking at is private funding of $21 million. We are also looking at the 4B sales tax corporation existing revenue sources that we have.
Residents said they are excited about what the new hotel could do for the economy.
“We do need it. What I hope is if they do build it, which they seem to be set to do, that it will encourage further development downtown. I think downtown is really critical to our success as a growing community, hopefully growing,” said Randy Martin, a Wichita Falls resident.
Dockery said even by conservative estimates the downtown hotel should have no problem paying back the loan from the 4B board and Dockery thinks the hotel will pay off in the long run in many ways.
“For image purposes and for economic activity,” Dockery said. “The studies have shown that this facility alone would generate over the first ten years of operation approximately $75 million in added economic impact to the community. That is with construction jobs as well as jobs that would be needed to run the facility and the impact to the community of visitors coming to the facility.”
Once the financial agreement is approved, construction will start not long after and a hotel that has been in the works for years will finally be ready for guests. Dockery said they are hopeful they will break ground on the facility this fall and with an estimated construction time of 16 months the hotel would be set to open in January 2020.