Metro staff has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the proposed Oregon Convention Center hotel project for June 12, and negotiators for the project say a development deal could be coming soon.
"We are coming very close to final terms on the development agreement," said convention center director Scott Cruickshank.
A vote on the agreement is tentatively scheduled for June 19.
The agreement, with Mortenson Development and Hyatt Hotels Corp., would spell out the framework for the development of a 600-room, $198 million hotel just north of the convention center. It would detail the terms of developing the hotel, as well as the terms under which Hyatt would reserve rooms for large conventions.
The push for the hotel, which supporters say would boost tourism in the Portland region, has been the main focus for Metro Council President Tom Hughes, who was re-elected to a second and final term on Tuesday.
"During my campaign, I pledged to work hard to create jobs in our region and I'm honored that the voters have faith in my leadership. The convention center hotel project has needed that leadership to move forward," Hughes said in a statement Wednesday. "The agreements we are now finalizing will ensure that the investment of visitor taxes produces a strong and ongoing economic impact throughout our community."
In exchange for conditions, including the room block agreement, the Hyatt project would receive $18 million in state and regional grants and loans. Another $60 million would be paid by room taxes on stays at the Hyatt. Opponents say if the Hyatt doesn't meet financial expectations, room taxes on visitors to other Portland hotels would pay for the Hyatt's construction.
A development agreement is far from the final word on the project. It would still need to go through pre-development work, including permitting and design.
"The development agreement just gets us to a place where we can start working toward predevelopment and design," Cruickshank said. "The final project budgets will come later."
The project could break ground in a year, if everything goes right – but there are several hurdles to getting there. Not only would the development and room block agreements have to be finalized and approved by the Metro Council, but the project's funding structure continues to be challenged in court.
Earlier this month, Metro asked a Multnomah County judge to declare that it acted within its authority when it re-wrote a tourism promotion agreement with Portland and Multnomah County to help finance the hotel project.