Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling told The City Paper Thursday he believes a deal for a convention center hotel could be finalized by Labor Day, but said conversations are continuing with parties besides Omni Hotels.
“We’re continuing to talk to multiple parties about a hotel,” Riebeling said. “I believe we’re making good progress, but we don’t have a deal. I’m optimistic we’ll get one, but we don’t have one yet.”
Earlier on Thursday, the Nashville Post.com reported Tower Investments reached an agreement to sell its 3.1-acre tract directly south of the Country Music Hall of Fame to Omni Hotels. Observers have speculated Mayor Karl Dean and his administration have coveted the property to build a companion hotel for the city’s new $585 million Music City Center.
Omni and Marriot International had previously been seen as the leading contenders to team up with Metro to construct what could be a $300 million hotel. Dean has said he’s seeking a deal that would rely on both private and public financing.
“The mayor’s been pretty clear that we’re not going to have a publicly funded hotel, or a publicly owned hotel,” Riebeling said. “That’s clearly the direction we’re moving in.”
Though Riebeling was adamant that talks are continuing with parties besides Omni, he said he hopes the administration would have something to announce by Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 6. He projected an ordinance could be presented to the Metro Council in the “fall time-frame.”
Given the timeline, Riebeling seemed to acknowledge the unlikelihood of a new hotel being constructed by February 2013, when Music City Center is slated to open. He downplayed the potential of logistical problems that could result.
“I’m not sure we can make February 2013, but I think within a few months of that is what we’re still shooting for,” Riebeling said. “I think that’s still potentially doable. It’s important we have a hotel, but it doesn’t have to open the same time as the convention center.”