You know what needs $40 million worth of upgrades and renovations? The Dallas Convention Center, apparently.

Dallas, We're Made of Money! At Least, That's the Message from City Hall.

Back on February 13, the city council approved two key items, one of which -- the $500,000 option on the Chavez parcel -- green-lighted the convention center hotel project. The other vote, which spent $170,000 on refinancing the convention center, has remained under the radar because of the focus on getting the hotel built as soon as possible. We’ve been probing periodically for updates from Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, who has been open about the city’s intent to refinance the center in order to get some dough for an expansion. But the specifics, most notably how much money the city would seek, were always sketchy. Till now.

Tomorrow morning, the council’s Economic Development Committee is expected to approve spending $40 million to expand, upgrade and renovate the Dallas Convention Center, including finishing the D area of the ballroom, repairing the roof and upgrading the electrical services and security. The item has already been added to Wednesday’s council addendum, which also includes spending another $4 million to make sure construction on the hotel begins in April.

As if Mayor Tom’s strategy for battling the hotel referendum wasn’t transparent enough, this makes it crystal clear. By the time May 9 rolls around, Leppert will have invested $100 million in the hotel and convention center: $42 million for the hotel’s land, $40 million for the convention center improvements, up to $10 million for hotel construction costs and $8 million for hotel pre-developments costs.

Much as the Trinity River toll road campaign was all about guilt -- Vote for the road, or else the entire project goes kaput-- the build-the-hotel campaign is set to tickle the guilty bone as well: Vote for the hotel, or $100 million goes adios.

Also, Vinson & Elkins will earn $180,000 from the bond sale; and West & Associates will bring in $70,000. So, yet again, the the city sells bonds, and Ron Kirk and Royce West get paid as co-bond counsel? Imagine what kind of cut they’re gonna get on $550 million. --Sam Merten

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