- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Polk County’s board of supervisors has agreed to loan nearly $30 million in additional financing to build a convention hotel attached to the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines.

The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1X55jdK ) reports that officials voted for the loan Wednesday. The board will loan up to $29 million through a partnership with Bankers Trust to kick-start construction on the $101 million hotel project, which will be managed and operated by Hilton.

The loan is part of a layered financing structure that will take the place of a foreign investment originally proposed for the project. Administrator Mark Wandro told the Iowa Events Center Hotel Corp. board Wednesday that the EB-5 foreign investment option was ditched because it would’ve added complexity and delayed disbursement of funds until the summer.

He said the county can afford the loan if it refinanced the Iowa Events Center downtown and that the strategy reduces risk for taxpayers.

“There’s no taxpayer money at risk in this project, zero,” Wandro said. “If (the hotel) fails miserably, it’s gaming money that’s bailing it out.”

Chairman of the Polk County Board of Supervisors Tom Hockensmith only partially agreed with that statement.

“It’s not property tax revenue that could be at risk,” said Hockensmith, who approved the new financing structure. “But it is, in my opinion, money that belongs to the taxpayers.”

Bankers Trust has created a subsidiary company, Fifth and Park LLC, which will buy the hotel after its expected completion in 2018.

The Iowa Events Center is owned by Polk County and operates on gaming revenue collected through gambling profits at Prairie Meadows casino.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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