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Council expected to approve hotel deal

by: MORTESON DEVELOPMENT - Artist's rendering of proposed 600-room Headquarters Hotel.The City Council is scheduled to take its final vote this week on the Headquarters Hotel project proposed by Metro that is intended to increase the use of the Oregon Convention Center.

The council is expected to approve moving forward with the $198 million project with only Commissioner Steve Novick voting no, based on the comments and preliminary votes from last week's hearing. Novick expressed concerns that the $78 million in public subsidies proposed for the project is too high.

Mayor Charlie Hales and other council members noted that most of the project cost — $119.5 million — will be paid by the developer, however.

Wednesday's vote is expected to amend an existing Intergovernmental Agreement between the city, Metro and Multnomah County. The amendment will dedicate the county transient lodging taxes collected at the hotel to be dedicated to repaying a $60 million Metro bond to help finance it.

Other public subsidies include $10 million in state Lottery Funds approved by the 2013 Oregon Legislature. Portland and Metro have each identified $4 million to complete the financing package.

The Multnomah County Commission approved amending the IGA last week.

If the council approves the amendment, Metro must still finalize the construction deal with the development team, which includes Minneapolis-based Mortenson Development, Hyatt Hotels and the local Schlesinger Company, which owns the land immediately north of the center.

The project is opposed by a number of local hotel owners who fear it will fail, potentially driving down room rates and diverting transient lodging taxes collected at their businesses to the project. They have threatened to refer the plan to the ballot if it is not changed.