FEBRUARY 28, 2006 -- A Convention Center has been on the region's economic development agenda for a very long time. The city of Wilmington and an all-volunteer Convention Center Task Force solicited proposals from more than 140 developers around the country. Their qualifications were stringent. The project was to be built without using property tax dollars, and the developer would be responsible for day-to-day operations, maintenance and any losses the center might incur. Three responses were received and the one qualifying proposal was chosen.
In the meantime, a city election was held and the convention center was a central issue. Candidates who supported the convention center were re-elected. But the owners of the Innkeeper Inn, Hampton Inn at Landfall, Residence Inn at Landfall, Holiday Inn SunSpree, and a Wilmington resident, Glenn Wells, filed suit against the city to block the convention center. So now a project that is conservatively estimated to generate 1200 jobs and $1.5 million in tax revenues to the city and county in its first year of operation is stalled in the courts by a group of hotels that didn't even submit a proposal for the project.
We support the city of Wilmington and the Convention Center Task Force and hope they prevail in the courts so this project can move forward quickly. And we call upon the plaintiff hotels to withdraw their lawsuit.