WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Leaders in the Port City unanimously approved plans to move forward with a convention center hotel in downtown Wilmington.
More than a dozen people, including members of economic development groups, business owners and nonprofit leaders spoke at Tuesday's public hearing in support of the project.
The lone voice of opposition came from attorney Matthew Davis, who represents Hilton Wilmington Riverside. His statements to city council mirrored his letter sent to the city attorney and his comments for our story earlier in the day.
"Under ordinary circumstances, what the city is proposing to do would be perfectly permissible," he said. "But these aren't ordinary circumstances and there's a consent judgment that lays out what the city can do here."
Davis said the deal is in violation of a consent judgment from 2006 that bars city leaders from subsidizing the hotel project.
Leaders approved the sale of land for nearly $579,000. Davis said the sale price and reserving 250 parking spaces in the convention center parking deck are a form of subsidizing the development.
City Manager Sterling Cheatham provided city leaders with a detailed presentation as to how the deal follows every aspect of the consent order.
After approval, Mayor Bill Saffo said attorneys had two years to talk out any concerns over the deal. He said raising a concern at this point in the project appeared to be an effort to stall the plan.
"That's all I believe it is," said Saffo. "It's a little concerning to me that they waited until almost the very last moment until they came up with their significant concerns."
The convention center hotel project would generate nearly 350 jobs through construction and planning, plus another 207 in operations.
Harmony Hospitality plans to build a 186-room Embassy Suites on the site.
Stay with this developing story to find out if Davis and Sotherly Hotels, Inc. chose to take legal action on this issue.
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