The Iowa Economic Development Authority will receive an update today on scaled-back plans for a convention center hotel in Des Moines.

 

The review comes at a time when leaders from the public and private sectors are attempting to fill a funding gap of about $6 million in what now is a roughly $90 million project to build a 300-room, four-star hotel at the former Allied Insurance Co. site just south of the Iowa Events Center.

 

Original plans called for a 450-room hotel at a total project cost of $128 million.
 
A team of officials from the public and private sectors is hoping to fill the funding gap from the private sector.

 

According to an IEDA staff report, the hotel would be operated by a nonprofit organization. Polk County acquired the deed to the property after it was first purchased by the Des Moines Redevelopment Co., a group of businesses and business leaders that has been behind efforts in recent years to trigger downtown development.

 

It is not clear what shape the nonprofit organization would take, Polk County Administratror Mark Wandro said.

 

"There is no entity because, quite frankly, at this point there is no project," he said.

 

The city of Des Moines has received preliminary approval from the state for a Reinvestment District that stretches from the proposed convention center hotel site south to Court Avenue. That includes the redevelopment of the Randolph Hotel and the development of a Hy-Vee Inc. grocery store and 81-unit apartment building, with both projects facing each other at Fourth Street and Court Avenue.


The area could receive $36 million in sales tax rebates.

 

By mid-summer, some project leaders were not certain that financing could be secured for the convention center hotel because of the challenges similar projects have faced in turning a profit. That mood had lightened, however, in recent weeks and officials were expressing optimism that a package could be put together.

 

A final proposal could be submitted Feb. 23 to the Des Moines City Council. The Polk County Board of Supervisors also will review the plan.

 

Under the state program, detailed financial terms must be presented to the IEDA by the end of February before the Reinvestment District receives final state approval.

 

The IEDA board also will receive updates on projects in Muscatine and Waterloo that have received preliminary approval. To date, Waterloo is the only community to submit a completed plan.