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Carrollton, Texas Residents Question the City's Plans
 for a Major Hotel Supported with Tax Breaks

By Avi Selk, The Dallas Morning NewsMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

October 15, 2010 --Carrollton's first major hotel could be on the horizon, if the city will have it.

The proposed eight-story hotel is at least two years from being built, but the city started laying the groundwork Thursday night with skeptical residents.

About 80 people flocked to City Hall to question officials about the hotel, which would be built just north of the President George Bush Turnpike at McCoy Road.

With 15,000 square feet of conference space, the hotel might also qualify as Carrollton's first convention center -- and two smaller hotels could follow within the next 10 years, according to city officials.

The city, which has owned the vacant land for the last two years, has enticed developer Lowen Holdings with tax breaks.

Although the brand of the potential hotel is unknown, officials are comparing it to a Marriott Courtyard.

Before construction can begin, the council will need to rezone several acres. The forum was intended to gain public support.

But neighbors who gathered at the meeting at City Hall were a tough sell.

"Why not stuff it behind a Walmart?" one man asked.

The audience applauded when another person asked: "What are you going to do when it's built up, it's unsuccessful, they shut down, and we have more vacant property?"

The city's transit-oriented development manager, Peter Braster, used charts and graphics as he tried to mollify the crowd.

Green space would separate the hotel from houses, he said. The hotels would bring in revenue. Traffic would increase only slightly or not at all.

"We need to generate more tax revenue," he warned. "Otherwise we're going to have to raise taxes on everybody."

But he was interrupted frequently as residents challenged him.

No council members were at the meeting. They will attend a public hearing on the proposed rezoning Nov. 2.

In an earlier interview, Mayor Ron Branson said the hotel was vital.

"Carrollton has gotten way behind other cities as far as that type of development," he said. "We have a hundred-some thousand people, and we have no hotel."

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To see more of The Dallas Morning News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dallasnews.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Dallas Morning News

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