- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - One developer has submitted a proposal to build a large hotel near the convention center in downtown Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County officials announced Monday.

Friday was the deadline to apply for the project, which comes with $75 million in possible tax credits.

The submitted proposal from Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts will now be reviewed by a county selection committee that’s tasked with endorsing a developer.

The committee can make recommendations to the plan and draw up a contract with Omni, which is not yet required to specify designs for the hotel or name a site where they would plan to build.

“We’re very pleased. Omni is the real deal when it comes to convention hotels,” Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said Monday.

The company has about 60 hotels in North America and has built similar convention center hotels in Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee, in recent years.

If the project goes forward, the hotel would be Omni’s first in Utah.

Messages left with the company Monday were not immediately returned.

At a county meeting in September, about half a dozen developers indicated they were considering applying the project.

McAdams said Monday that the incentive was relatively modest so he’s not surprised that more developers didn’t jump in.

McAdams and other state and local officials have pushed for incentives, arguing a large hotel close to the convention center would provide needed hotel space to attract and keep conventions in Salt Lake City, particularly the world’s largest trade show for outdoor gear.

The Outdoor Retailer expo brings 20,000 people to the Salt Lake City convention center twice a year and has committed to stay in Salt Lake City through 2016. But Outdoor Retailer’s organizers have warned officials that they’ll have to find a new home if more hotel rooms aren’t available soon.

McAdams has said about 30 other conventions bypassed Salt Lake City in recent years, citing a shortage of hotel space.

In order to attract a developer, Utah officials are offering up to $75 million in possible tax credits if the new hotel increases state and local tax sales revenues in the years after it opens.

Some lawmakers and others worried that the project and incentive could harm existing hotels, so lawmakers also included an $8 million lifeline for existing hotels if they have vacancies once the new hotel opens.

Charlie Muller, an acquisitions and development consultant with Omni, told The Associated Press in September that there are several sites in downtown Salt Lake City where the hotel could be built but he didn’t specify them.

Muller estimated that construction would take about two years, with the hotel opening no sooner than 2018.

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Follow Michelle L. Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice .


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