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Convening on a Convention Center

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Once again, College Station is taking a hotel-convention center proposal to the public.

"The council adopted a communication plan for the public," said Kim Foutz, the director of community and economic development for College Station. "We want to engage our stakeholders and other public entities to let them know a little bit about where we're heading with the project."

Where they're heading is a 200-300 room hotel as part of a 90,000 square foot facility, nearly half of which would be rentable space. The aim of the facility would be for business and state associations to hold conferences, events that would be anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 people.

"We have three hoteliers that are qualified that are interested in doing the project, and we are currently negotiating with our top selection," said Foutz.

The city has tried twice in recent years to make this project happen, including an attempt to build a facility in the Wolf Pen Creek area. The target now: Northgate.

"What we offered was about 10 sites for them to evaluate within the city," Foutz said. "All of them selected Northgate, primarily because of its proximity to the university."

"There's a lot of synergy to be realized here with the city of Bryan, Brazos County and Texas A&M," city councilman Ron Gay said, "so we're kind of excited about the possibility of having a convention center here."

Gay and other council members have been extolling the virtues of a new center to community groups like the Commissioners' Court, touting the potential growth.

"The restaurants, the retail shopping opportunities," Gay noted. "We've already identified more than $150 million of redevelopment opportunities for the Northgate area."

To fund it, the city would create a tax increment financing district and use hotel-motel tax.

In other College Station city council news:

- The debate over flights in and out of Love Field in Dallas could impact Easterwood Airport. That's why College Station's city council voted in support of the 25-year-old Wright Amendment, which prevents Southwest Airlines to expand out of Love Field. A repeal of the amendment could lead American Airlines to move more services to Love and out of smaller airports like Easterwood. The vote was 5-0, with councilmembers John Happ and Nancy Berry choosing not to vote. Happ runs Easterwood, and Berry is a very minor Southwest Airlines stockholder.

- The council also adopted a joint resolution in support of the push for the current President Bush's future library. The resolution will go before Bryan's council tomorrow, and the County Commissioners Court at their next meeting, and then to the A&M team preparing the proposal for the library.