Tuesday, August 9, 2011
A new downtown hotel is the first proposal under Project Downtown, the city's Downtown Master Plan.
The hotel is expected to bring in extra property tax money, tourism, and help with future development, but one council member can't seem to get past the fact that the chosen developer has also donated to the campaign funds of public figures.
"I think that $6 million is a lot of money by anyone's standards, and to just award that to a contractor that has special ties to campaign finance reports, to I believe everyone on the council except myself, seems a little questionable," said council member Michael O'Donnell.
Councilman Michael O'Donnell heated up the debate among council members Tuesday, as the city looks at contributing $7.7 million and offering tax incentives to local developer David Burk.
"When you're dealing with a multi-million-dollar construction project, you need to do what's best in the public's interest and go out for a bid," said O'Donnell.
Burk, who owns Marketplace Properties, and works with Key Construction in Wichita, has already been selected for the job, to turn the building at Douglas and Broadway into a hotel, parking garage and urban park.
"We do need to have a bid process, and we can't award it to someone we're friends with," said O'Donnell.
Within a city ordinance, some city projects are actually exempt from the bidding requirement.
"If we didn't have any private dollars, and we were doing it all ourselves, it would all got out for public bid," said Mayor Carl Brewer. "It's written into the ordinance that does allow them to be able to go out and do what they're wanting to do."
Burk now has the go-ahead to purchase the property, as the council looks forward to a public hearing, one that will be post approval this time.
The public hearing on tax increment financing will take place September 13.
Burk hopes to have the hotel open and ready for business by end end of 2012.