All systems appear to be go for construction of a 124-room Marriott Courtyard hotel along with an adjoining conference center.
The Bellevue City Council Monday night enthusiastically embraced a proposal to build a $14 million hotel and an $8 million conference center on land directly west of the Culver's restaurant north of the Marcus Theater in Twin Creek.
Bruce Kinseth, vice president of Kinseth Hospitality, which will build the hotel, said he and his Iowa-based company are “very excited” about building a facility he believes Bellevue needs.
“We think that Bellevue very much needs a conference center and needs a banquet center that can accommodate all the needs of the people in the city,” he said.
Council members voted 6-0 to authorize city staff to pursue a contract for the construction of the complex but delayed until its Feb. 24 session approving land purchase and management operations agreements, as well as approving an agreement on design and construction.
The details of those portions of the agreement were provided to council members earlier Monday, too little time to review them properly.
The agreement calls for Kinseth to build the hotel and for the city to build the conference center through a bond issue. Kinseth will operate the convention center under contract with the city.
Confidence was high that sales, property and lodging taxes generated by the complex will be sufficient to retire the bonds issued by the city.
Council member Carol Blood said that the encouraging revenue projections provided by Kinseth were possibly understated.
“I think you've lowballed us when it comes to the actual financial benefits for Bellevue,” Blood told Kinseth. “I'm hoping we man up and take a risk for once, because this will change how Bellevue looks to everybody.”
Kinseth said he is confident a market exists in the metro area for a conference center able to serve up to 1,000 people.
He said other hotels in the Kinseth network frequently turn away meetings of such size but will now redirect them to Bellevue.
“We get zillions of calls in West Omaha for
conferences,” he said. “We're going to send them to Bellevue.”
He said Kinseth Hospitality will market the complex around the Midwest.
Members of Bellevue's business community turned out in force to support the project, promising to bring trade conventions and awards banquets should the conference center be built.
City Council President Kathy Saniuk, filling in for the absent Mayor Rita Sanders, said the project will move Bellevue forward.
“One of the things we are tasked with is to grow this city and to find new streams of revenue,” she said. “That's exactly what we are going to with this project. The more businesses, goods, services, we bring into the city the less dependent we are on property taxes.”
Saniuk said she is confident that the new sales, property and lodging taxes generated by the complex will be sufficient to retire any bonds the city agrees to issue.
Jim Ristow, president of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, urged approval of the hotel complex.
“It's kind of game on at this point, now,” he said.