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Metro, city put off vote on headquarters hotel plan

The Metro Council is unlikely to vote this year on a proposed finance package for construction of a hotel near the Oregon Convention Center, after the regional government’s staff asked for more time to negotiate with the project’s developers.

Metro, Multnomah County and the Portland Development Commission have negotiated for a month with the developers, a consortium including Mortensen Development and Hyatt hotels, on the scope and cost of the project.

METRO NEWS

Stories Nick Christensen writes for Metro are not edited or altered by the regional agency or the Metro Council. Christensen is a Metro employee, but provides independent reporting on the agency. Metro news is committed to transparency, fairness and accuracy.

In the agenda for Tuesday’s Metro Council work session, staffers say they’ve made progress in the negotiations, including agreeing to focus on building one 600-room hotel across from the Oregon Convention Center, instead of building two hotels that would total 600 rooms.

But the staff report said the lengthy labor negotiations between the developers and UNITE HERE, the union hoping to represent workers at the hotel, pushed back the window for negotiations between the local governments and the developers.

“Staff continues to work diligently to reduce the funding gap while maintaining the project principles of minimum public investment and risk,” according to the report.

“We set an aggressive timeline to get this project to term sheets by December and we’re just not there yet,” said Metro Council President Tom Hughes. “We’ll conduct our due diligence for the sake of the public and we’ll provide opportunities for the public to weigh in.”

The delay likely means that any decisions on the hotel will be voted on by the two new members of the Portland City Council and three new Metro councilors set to take office after Jan. 1.

Hughes said he is scheduled to meet on Dec. 10 with Portland Mayor-elect Charlie Hales to talk about the hotel and other issues.

“The idea is to do it at a pace that allows us to assure the new councilors coming on board to the Portland City Council that the project we’re proposing is a sound project,” he said.

At the work session next week, councilors will hear from a consultant who studied the potential economic impact of building a hotel near the Oregon Convention Center. Metro visitor venues director Teri Dresler said she has not seen the consultant’s report, which is scheduled for release on Tuesday.

According to a Metro staff report, the Hyatt project would cost between $157 million and $200 million, depending on the site chosen for the project.

The negotiations are the latest phase of a long effort to attract a developer to build a hotel adjacent to the Oregon Convention Center, with the hopes that the availability of a large block of hotel rooms would encourage more national conventions to book the center.