|By Ruth Rendon, Houston
ChronicleMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 20, 2008 - La Porte city leaders wanting to attract a hotel to the local Sylvan Beach area won approval from Harris County commissioners Tuesday to pursue a developer.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to allow the city to seek proposals for the development of a hotel and conference center, La Porte Mayor Alton Porter said. The city's first call of action is to issue a request for qualification for the project and bear all the financial risk for the project.
The city of La Porte now leases five acres of park space from the county that includes the Sylvan Beach Pavilion. The proposed 200-room hotel would sit where the pavilion that overlooks Galveston Bay is now.
"It's been a significant part of La Porte's history," Porter said of the pavilion and park area.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the area attracted big bands with people arriving by train. In the 1950s, the pavilion that sits over the water was built. The structure sustained severe damage following Hurricane Alicia in 1983 and was boarded up. The city refurbished it and operates it now.
Porter said the city paid for a market study and found there is a need for a hotel and conference center, namely to accommodate the 118 industrial facilities in the area. He also pointed out that the hotel would be near the Bayport cruise ship terminal.
David Turkel, head of the county's community and economic development department, said the city's market study also found that there are no comparable hotels nearby.
Tuesday's vote doesn't mean a hotel will be built. After La Porte seeks proposals, Commissioners Court and the city would have to approve a contract allowing a firm to build and operate the hotel, Garcia said.
In 1993, Sunbelt Hotels announced it was building a six-story hotel on Sylvan Beach, but the deal never materialized.
Chronicle reporter Bill Murphy contributed to this report.
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