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Metro pushes hotel project forward

The Metro Council unanimously voted to continue working towards the construction of a 600-room headquarters hotel just north of the Oregon Convention Center on Thursday afternoon.

"This is an opportunity to create jobs, starting with 3,000 temporary construction jobs and including 600 permanent jobs when it is completed," said Metro President Tom Hughes.

The council approved proposed terms for a development agreement and an amended Intergovernmental Agreement to help fund the $197.5 million project.

The Portland City Council and Multnomah County Commission must also agree to amend the IGA with Metro for the project to proceed. They are tentatively scheduled to consider it in September.

The agreement must be amended to allow county room taxes collected at the hotel to dedicated to financing a $60 million Metro-issued bond.

Those supporting the project say it is needed to attract additional national conventions to the center, which is owned and operated by Metro. All of the members of the Metro Council said they believe the project will benefit the entire region by bringing more conventions to the center. Many of the additional conventioneers will stay and travel throughout the region after their events end, they said.

The agreements were approved over the objections of local hotel owners, who called the project financially risky. They argue the public could be forced to pay the bonds if the hotel fails.

According to the agreements approved by Metro, the rest of the money for the project will come from the following sources: $119,5 million from the project developer; $10 million from the Oregon Lottery; $4 million from Metro; and $4 million from the Portland Development Commission.

The development team includes Mortenson Development, Hyatt Hotels, Elness Swenson Graham Architects, Ankron Moison Associated Architects, and Schlesinger Properties, which owns the property.