|By Fred Leeson, The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 4, 2004 - The Portland Development Commission has sent formal requests to seven potential developers in a quest to find a builder for a major hotel near the Oregon Convention Center.
Developers who were sent the requests on Friday have until Dec. 10 to submit proposals and financing ideas for a convention hotel of as many as 800 rooms. The city development agency established the list of developers after issuing preliminary inquiries last year.
The agency said it would give priority to proposals that are privately funded, but said it also would consider proposals requiring various forms of public ownership or financial assistance.
If a deal can be negotiated, the development agency would like to see a new hotel open by winter 2008. However, the city has been trying without success to land a major hotel near the Convention Center since before the center opened in 1990.
Convention and tourism recruiters contend that a large hotel near the center would help attract larger conventions. But private operators have said the Portland market would not support an 800-room hotel with substantial public subsidies.
Some current Portland hotel operators also have voiced worries that a major new hotel would damage occupancy rates in the downtown and Lloyd Center areas.
Developers could meet the 800-room target by building a single new hotel or by combining a new project with rehabilitation of existing rooms nearby, the agency stated in its request.
The development agency is acquiring two blocks abutting the Convention Center between Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Grand Avenue between Holladay and Oregon streets as a possible hotel site.
A proposed hotel would not have to be built at that location, according to the city's request, but must be within two blocks of the convention center.
The development agency said it would create an advisory committee with representatives from 10 public and private agencies to evaluate proposals received. Final decisions on construction plans and any public assistance would have to be approved by the Portland City Council.
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