Worthington to pursue event center-hotel siteWORTHINGTON — An events center/hotel project stymied for more than a year appears to taking a significant leap forward.
By: Ryan McGaughey, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — An events center/hotel project stymied for more than a year appears to taking a significant leap forward.
The Worthington City Council, acting during its Monday night meeting, approved going ahead with the pursuit of signing a letter of intent with Cornerstone Construction of St. Cloud on development of the $3.5 million project. Under a best-case scenario, Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark said Tuesday afternoon, work at the events center/hotel site — located adjacent to the city’s bioscience park on U.S. 59 — would begin in spring 2011, with completion by spring or summer of 2012.
“We’ve been working to complete the initiative we embarked on with adoption of the half-cent sales tax to complete the events center, along with a privately-developed hotel,” Clark said.
That effort was renewed as a result of the July 2009 expiration of a memorandum of understanding the city signed with Ruhr Development — “a result of the difficult economic time and the investment climate that they (Ruhr) weren’t able to follow through,” Clark said. City councilmen reviewed proposals from three companies Monday, ultimately accepting the Cornerstone plan.
“We did a lot of due diligence on the proposals,” Clark explained. “(City) staff went to the Event Center Task Force to review the three different proposals with them and garner their feedback. Staff recommended Cornerstone as being the strongest of the three different proposals that we wanted to enter into a memorandum of understanding with … and the task force supported the staff recommendation.”
The Cornerstone proposal would dramatically alter the city landscape on its northern edge while providing new lodging, city facilities and — potentially — an additional restaurant.
Cornerstone and its investors have proposed a 64-unit Country Inn & Suites with an indoor pool/water park, Clark said. The facility, including the event center, would be managed by Central Group Companies, also of St. Cloud.
Clark noted that Cornerstone has constructed and has ownership interests in hotel properties around Minnesota, including Canby and Pipestone in the southwest part of the state. Central Group Companies has assisted in the development of 38 hotel, restaurant and water park properties, as well as had oversight in the renovation or repositioning of 60 other properties.
“Cornerstone was established in 1996, and their president has 30 years experience and 11 years as its owner; their project manager has 15 years of experience,” Clark said. “This is a well-established company that has a lengthy list of experience and well-established properties.
Clark also praised Central Group Companies experience, noting a $100 million renovation it led of a casino and resort in Reno, Nev., as well as projects in Alexandria, Owatonna, Deerwood and Faribault.
The two other proposals received by the city came from Lexington Hotel Development Group of Greendale, Wis., and One Hospitality of St. Paul.
The city now has 60 days to negotiate a final agreement with Cornerstone, at which point the contract will be returned to the city council for its approval.
“Hopefully, this will be a spring contract if everything works out right,” Clark said. “It’s very encouraging … and their (Cornerstone and Central Group Companies) optimism and enthusiasm was very apparent last night.”