While Breaking Ground for Convention Center Hotel, Mayor Tom Leppert Unveils Updated Design and Becomes Bellhop for a Day

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It took Mayor Tom Leppert approximately two years to accomplish what no one else in Dallas could: begin building a convention center hotel. And hundreds of assorted politicos, city officials, business leaders and supporters were on hand Tuesday afternoon at the site of the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel to celebrate the man whose vision made it all possible. For his part, Leppert acknowledged everyone else's involvement, thanking them for their effort.

"It's been a long road, and we've all been down it together," he said.

Aside from what amounted to a pep rally, with rounds of applause for each person and organization, Leppert unveiled an updated design for the hotel, which includes "a more streamlined and classic look at the top" and "a more dramatic and timeless look to the exterior skin using more consistent darker glass." Leppert also noted the rounded ends of the structure and said it will feature "new ways to engage downtown" without elaborating. A sneak peek is available after the jump, with the full renderings available in our slide show.

Council members Angela Hunt and Vonciel Hill -- both hotel foes -- were absent, but the remaining 12 council members (including Ann Margolin, who opposed the hotel during her campaign) were in attendance along with state Senator Royce West, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, John Scovell and Donna Halstead of the Dallas Citizens Council, and consultants Carol and Laura Reed, Mari Woodlief and Willis Johnson.

Laura Estrada, chair of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, presented Leppert with a bellhop's hat, explaining that she remembered him saying during the campaign that he'd carry the bags of conventioneers if the hotel was built. "If he thinks the hat's cool, wait till he sees the uniform," she said.

"Well, if this doesn't work out, at least I've got another job," Leppert said.

Ah, good times. And then, of course, it was on to the groundbreaking, which consisted of about 50 people shoveling dirt into a hole. Twice.

Yup. There was a freggin' encore.

Confetti blasts were fired off, followed by a crane pulling a huge "D" out of the hole as the Townview Magnet Center's marching band played in the background.

Leppert also mentioned a quick reaction to his earlier iPhone announcement, saying he'd received an e-mail from the president of a company in New York willing to relocate to Dallas.

If only he would have thought of this iPhone idea sooner. Maybe he could have given one to Mike Deitemeyer, president of Omni, and convinced him to build the hotel so the city didn't have to foot the bill.

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