Friday, April 24, 2009

War Of Words Over Proposed Dallas Hotel Heats Up


Fifteen days from now voters will decide the fate of a Downtown Dallas hotel. The war of words continued to escalate as more people joined sides over the proposed 1,000-room convention center hotel.

Opponents accuse city officials of lying about the latest feasibility study. City leaders say they stopped the study until the bond market improves, and they're ready to sell bonds. But that won't be done until after the election - if at all.

"They're playing a game here. It is the job of our city council to be open and honest with the taxpayers about the risk of the project, but they're not. They're hiding the ball," said Anne Raymond, Director of the Citizens Against The Taxpayer-Owned Hotel.

City leaders are angry over the accusations.

"I'm taking no questions. There is no report and when there is a report, we'll share it with everybody," said Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm.

The city-owned hotel project won new backing Thursday when the group 'Rest In Peace Dallas' showed its support at city hall.

Opponents are bankrolled by Harlan Crow, whose family owns the Hilton Anatole, one of the city's largest hotels. The hotel also conducts a lot of business with the convention center.

Some downtown hotels, including the Hyatt Regency, which also hosts conventions, say the proposed hotel will attract large conventions that don't come to the area now.

"A large number of attendees need to participate and stay at a large number of hotels," said Steve Vissotzky, the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency.

"It shouldn't happen. The city doesn't know how to compete in the hotel business," said Raymond.

If voters approve the proposed convention center hotel, it could open in 2012.

Early voting starts this Monday. Election Day is May 9.


(DALLAS (CBS 11 News)© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)