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Hotel property buyback plans on hold

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Hotelier John Q. Hammons will hang on to a piece of St. Louis Street property a little while longer.

At Tuesday’s Springfield City Council lunch, council members approved a proposal by City Manager Greg Burris to temporarily delay plans to repurchase the property east of the Expo Center from Hammons for $1.

“It’s an extension, but with the purpose of doing a competitive assessment,” Burris said. “You’ve heard the questions, too: ‘Do you really need a hotel there or do you need something else there?’ Well, why don’t we answer that question?”

The city manager’s proposal – which he said has gotten a verbal agreement from Hammons – would delay the buyback of the property until a competitive assessment is conducted by a consulting firm. The study would look at how Springfield can better compete with other cities to draw convention events, the best community use for the lot, and ways to improve Expo Center revenue.

While the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau board has not had an opportunity to approve the proposal, Burris is recommending that the cost of the study be split evenly between the city, CVB and Hammons Hotels. If the CVB gives its approval, it would also issue a Request for Proposals and manage the process.

A citizen task force also would work with the three participating organizations to make recommendations based on the study’s findings. Burris estimated the study would take about five months.

Even though they gave the go-ahead to move forward with the proposal, council members will have another opportunity to buy back the property when they’re asked to amend the city budget to pay for the city’s portion of the analysis, Burris said. He noted that opportunity could come up in August.[[In-content Ad]]

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