Tyler Morning Telegraph – Tyler Council bring on new firm to assist with its hotel conference center project

The city of Tyler brought on a new firm to help it in the quest to build a hotel convention center.

On Wednesday, the Tyler City Council approved terminating a memorandum of understanding with Champ Hospitality LLC and acquitting the service of CBRE, a large nation-wide real estate company.

The move is an effort find a private developer to help the city build a hotel conference center near the intersection of Toll 49 and U.S. Highway 69, as well as a hotel operator to run it.

CBRE is a large firm that has a hotel division. It also has professionals familiar with Tyler’s project. The company acquired PKF, which was the that did feasibility and market studies for Tyler in 2010.

“This will be on the developer selection process,” City Manager Ed Broussard said. “We have the site. We know the project from the work we have done over the last couple of years, including the estimated cost and how the site is laid out. “We need a developer selection team to secure financing and be able to pull off the hotel side of the project – that’s what CBRE comes into play. They will help narrow down potential developers, which for council will ultimately interview and select from to move the project forward.”

A hotel conference center has been a dream of the city since 2010, and the city estimated more than 20,000 hotel stays are lost annually due to a lack of facilities to accommodate larger conferences.

In September 2016, Champ Hospitality was brought on to help the city find a hotel operator to run the conference center and to secure private investors for the project.

The firm and the city signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday, which outlined goals. In January, the agreement was extended another 45 days, but Champ was not able to make the project viable.

That partnership was terminated Wednesday, and the city will begin working with CBRE, but mayor Martin Heines was complimentary of the firm.

“I don’t want this to be a reflection of the professionals we have worked with,” he said. “They have all been professional to work with. A lot of times the market responds favorably to certain trends, and a lot of firms are not used to the public discussions, but that’s important to us. They all have done a good job, but the market circumstances have not worked out for them. As we move forward, we are hoping the market will work favorably.”

For the city’s part, Tyler agrees to contribute up to $19 million to the construction of the conference center, but will not help pay for the hotel’s construction. The city is constructing an ornamental lake on the property, which will help with drainage in the area, and will pay to extend existing roads to the property for easy access. The now-terminated memorandum indicated the hotel would have at least 203 rooms. The conference center will be 29,000 square feet, with a 10,000-square-foot ballroom and at least 5,000 square feet of smaller meeting space.

Heines said he’s more confident…

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