|The Bismarck Tribune,
N.D.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 11, 2007 - Canad Inns will get another year to decide whether it wants to develop a convention center adjacent to the Bismarck Civic Center.
On Tuesday, the Bismarck City Commission approved giving the hotel giant a year extension on providing a proposal. Commissioners also said the city might not be ready for this type of project.
It was early 2006 when the city put out a request for proposal on development of a hotel next to the Civic Center and the Canadian-based Canad Inns was selected to provide a proposal.
In August 2006, Canad Inns made a presentation on building a high-rise hotel on the lot south of the Civic Center, but there were expectations that the city will make major improvements to the Civic Center.
Commissioner Sandi Tabor said part of the issue was whether the city will do a study of its own -- a marketing or feasibility study on where the Civic Center should be in its development as described by the facility's master plan.
"That hasn't even been started," Tabor said. "Seems we, ourselves, are a little delinquent in the effort."
Tabor made the motion to extend the period to study the project for a year. Mayor John Warford said this would allow both sides to do further study and no deals would be struck in the interim.
Should the city decide to go forward with improvements to the Civic Center, a separate source of funding will have to be found, Commissioner Connie Sprynczynatyk said. Commissioners agreed, acknowledging that there will likely have to be a bond issue put before the voters.
Commissioner Steve Schwab, who hadn't been elected at the time the RFP was put out, said perhaps the city shouldn't be in the development business with Canad and that it could hurt competition.
Warford said that what was being considered is just a proposal to do a feasibility study. He also said that Canad has just dedicated and opened a similar project next to the Grand Forks Alerus Center. The Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau is doing a study to see what impact the Canad project will have on other hotels.
"There is no proposal right now, it's just the right to study the situation," Warford said.
Commissioner Dave Jensen expressed concerns on whether the project will come back before the commission prior to any expenditures. Tabor assured him that anything major that had to do with funds will certainly have to be decided by the commission.
The motion to extend the study period was approved on a 3-to-2 vote, with Jensen and Schwab in opposition.
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