The Arlington City Council approved an $810 million expansion project on Dec. 17, 2019, for its entertainment district, which would give the city a new 888-room Loews hotel connected to a convention center, new residential and office space for small business co-working and incubator space and a 200,000-square-foot corporate office headquarters. The expansion would also provide more room for additional dining, retail and entertainment offerings.
Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2020 and Arlington City Manager Trey Yelverton told the City Council that the $550 million in private financing for the hotel is "100% funded up front by the development team from the Loews corporation."
"We want to put Arlington on the national stage," Loews vice president Alex Tish told the Arlington City Council in December.
The project enters the city into a public-private partnership over a 30-year period and builds on the sector's growing entertainment infrastructure such as the Texas Live! complex that opened in 2018 and Globe Life Park, the now former home of the Texas Rangers.
"These elements of expansion have been long sought by the city of Arlington to help the entertainment district realize its full potential," says Bruce Payne, the city's economic development director. "It includes an almost 900-room convention hotel with a convention center that's 150,000 square feet as well as a mixed-use facility located next to Texas Live!"
Payne says the expansion is designed to provide a wider range of opportunities for business partnerships and economic development with these new facilities.
"If you look at what AT&T Stadium is and what will be Globe Life Field, those buildings are not single-purpose structures," Payne says. "AT&T is really a large special event center, and it's primarily for football but it also does so many things, and I think the Rangers just sort of followed that play and created a small version of it but there are certain things that would want to use that kind of facility.
"So they can activate the building more frequently, and more money comes in and not just limited to sports that the buildings were primarily designed for."
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The new hotel helps bring in crowds for special events and gatherings at the new convention center, Payne says.
"If you add a hotel space, you can add convention events and exhibit events, whatever fits in that world, and you'll have the close-by hotel space that can help cause those events to locate in Arlington, and that has been a long-term goal," Payne says.
The end result means more revenue for the city in the public and private sectors.
"Ultimately, it's a big sales tax producer for the city as well as a cultural element," Payne says, "and it's just an economic powerhouse that works very well for the city's purposes."