|By Mary Perez, The Sun Herald, Biloxi,
Miss.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 19, 2011--BILOXI -- Pictures of the proposed 500-room hotel at the Coast Convention Center were revealed Thursday but it's still undetermined whether Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton or another company will operate the $100 million hotel.
"We will be selecting the flag on a competitive basis," said Tom Lander, general manager of Mortenson Development, the company hired by the Commission to design and build a convention hotel.
Though the hotel is based on a Sheraton design, "We have not committed to Sheraton," he said during the Coliseum Commission meeting Thursday.
Plans call for a maximum 14-story hotel off U.S. 90, oriented north-south to give guest room views of the sunrise and sunset over the water.
The hotel includes a full-service restaurant, a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, 5,000-square-foot junior ballroom and 5,000 square feet of breakout rooms. Outdoors there will be a swimming pool, a patio for receptions and a landscaped walkway to the front door of the Convention Center.
"When we finally select the flag there probably will be minor refinements," Lander said.
First Mortenson Development has to complete negotiations to buy the former Holiday Inn property as the site of the new hotel.
"Right now as it's laid out and envisioned, it's all on the Holiday Inn site," he said. The hotel will have about 350 parking spaces and will share parking with the Convention Center.
Mortenson will come in with a management team to oversee construction but local builders will get most of the work.
"We anticipate that 80 to 90 percent will be done with the local contracting community," Lander said.
"January it could come out of the ground," said Bill Holmes, executive director of the Coliseum and Convention Center.
He said the timeline is moving quickly because Dec. 31 is the deadline to sell Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds to help finance the project.
He estimates the hotel will take two years to build and create 200 jobs. He also anticipates it will double the business of the Convention Center, since many of the large conventions won't consider booking at a facility that doesn't have an on-site hotel.
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