Three years after convention center opening, city doesn’t have agreement for new hotel

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Just a few weeks after aldermen voted to enter into an option for development of 72 condos on the other end of the riverfront site, at the former Natchez Pecan Factory location, local officials are talking to three prospects about building a hotel on the bluff.

Those developers &045; from Atlanta, Houston and Arkansas &045; &uot;have indicated interest and will probably visit the site in the next 30 days,&uot; City Attorney Walter Brown said.

Brown said the Hilton corporation has been helpful in directing the city to developers that might be interested in the property across Canal Street from the convention center.

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The city had been hopeful that a fourth developer, from Shreveport, La., would build a hotel at the site. But that developer wanted the city to close off streets adjacent to the site &045; an impossibility on some of downtown’s busiest streets.

In addition, the developer said a feasibility study didn’t work out &045; although Brown said the prospect didn’t elaborate on the results.

&uot;I would have hoped we could work something out sooner,&uot; Brown said. But when it comes to the remaining three prospects, he said, &uot;the city remains optimistic.&uot;

Tourism officials have said they could land bigger conferences if they only had a convention-grade hotel next to the convention center. Also, the hotel would serve as an anchor what city officials hope will be a strip of commercial and residential development along the top of the bluff and along the riverfront.