Hey, Look, They've Already Built the Convention Center Hotel -- In Miniature!

To offset any potential sticker shock at shelling out another $4.6 million for the convention center hotel, the city unveiled development renderings, cloth samples and even a model of the proposed project at this morning’s Economic Development Committee meeting. This prompted committee chair Ron Natinsky to take a quick poll of the audience: How many of you think it’s "signature"? A few scattered hands were raised, with only a few expressing enthusiasm.

How many of you think it’s "iconic"? Ditto. How many of you think it’s both signature and iconic? Same hands, same people. The verdict? Among the audience (which included Phillip Jones and Matthew Jones of the DCVB, Build the Hotel consultant Becky Mayad and hotel opponent Anne Raymond), a couple people think this sucker is going to kick major ass, and a few would have raised their hands no matter what Natinsky said.

More renderings after the jump, along with a meeting recap.

While Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez walked committee members the through the PowerPoint presentation we mentioned this morning, I spent my time chatting with developer Jack Matthews, who says the pending referendum in May has no bearing on what he’s doing. Like the council, he’s moving full-speed ahead.

But unlike the council members, who have constituents to answer to, his stance makes complete sense. Matthews is a businessman. He’s been hired to build this hotel, and that’s exactly what he’s focusing on. The politics don’t really affect his plans, especially since he has nothing to lose if this thing gets killed at the polls.

Matthews tells Unfair Park that preliminary stages of construction will begin in March, which could include demolition of the existing parking garage on the Chavez site, assuming everything goes as planned. By the time of the citizens get their say in May, Matthews estimates that a maximum of $10 million in construction will be underway. Which should make Mayor Tom and other Build the Hotel’ers very happy. Their message in May will be clear: Vote against the hotel, and watch your money get flushed down the toilet. --Sam Merten

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