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So, How're Those Convention Center Hotel Negotiations Going, Anyhow?

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Developer Jack Matthews has till August 18 to finalize his negotiations with the city to build Mayor Tom’s convention center hotel project. So with the deadline fast approaching, we figured it was time to see how the deal was doing. Turns out, the council’s Economic Development Committee is meeting Friday in executive session regarding the negotiations and will also discuss issuing an MOU.

To find out what the eff an MOU is and get an idea what will be discussed Friday, we turned to A.C. Gonzalez, the assistant city manager handling the project. Regarding the executive session, Gonzalez says staff will give committee members “a behind-the-scenes look at the issues the city is facing in its negotiations with Matthews Southwest,” and they will discuss aspects of the deal that may or may not meet the objectives they are trying to achieve with the project.

The MOU, short for memorandum of understanding, is a formal way of saying the city is still working with Matthews -- even though the 60 days is about to expire. “This is a more clear signal to the marketplace that he’s our guy, that we feel confident that he can get the job done,” Gonzalez tells Unfair Park, “but there’s still more details to work out.”

If approved, the MOU will hit the council’s agenda next Wednesday for official approval, along with an item to begin the process of establishing a local government agency to run the hotel. “There will be some specific things that we’re gonna have Matthews do between now and September will either make or break a particular direction that we can go with the hotel,” Gonzalez says.

In other convention center hotel news, remember that June 16 debate that was canceled because hotel proponents backed out at the last minute? Well, it’s back on, and, as you’d expect, no one in favor of the hotel will be speaking. However, Anne Raymond of Crow Holdings will do her best to make the project look like a boondoggle. For interested parties, it’s August 26 at PoPoLos Café in Preston Royal from 5:45 to 7 p.m.

Also, the council’s Finance, Audit & Accountability Committee will vote this morning on changing one of the six underwriters for the convention center hotel project from UBS Securities to Goldman, Sachs & Co., because UBS is closing its municipal bond department. Dang, if only it was CitiGroup. Then Mayor Tom would be forced to de-muzzle Mitchell Rasansky. --Sam Merten

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