City council votes to move forward on downtown catalyst projects

City council votes to move forward on downtown catalyst projects

Amarillo, TX - After weeks of uncertainty, all three downtown catalyst projects will move forward.

There were many disagreements at Tuesday's four-hour long city council meeting, but the councilmen did agree on one thing: there will be an event venue downtown. However, voters will decide if it's a ballpark.

"We all agree there is going to be a MPEV," said councilman Randy Burkett. "But what is going to go on the ballot is whether or not it will have a $32 million baseball park in it. That is the only issue. Once we rule that out or if we do agree on it we'll build the ballpark, if not we'll go to plan B and build something different."

Voters will decide if the MPEV will include a ballpark on November 3.

If the ballpark is voted down, it's back to the drawing board for what the event venue will be, but the council made it clear that it will not be an empty lot.

The majority of the council also voted to proceed with an updated financial plan for the parking garage and hotel. The parking garage will still cost $14 million, but the city will have to spend an additional $5 million to build 24,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and to find tenants to fill it.

That task was supposed to be financed by Wallace Bajjali Development Partners. The city terminated all contracts with the former master developer back in January after the company unexpectedly dissolved.

Randy Burkett and Mark Nair opposed the retail part of the plan, and voted against the updated resolution. "I certainly didn't want to put the public in a position where they were absorbing all the risk, but it got voted down 3-2," said Burkett.

Richard Brown, the president of the Local Government Corporation, said the city is contractually obligated to build the retail space along with the garage.

Councilman Brian Eades said Tuesday's meeting was a long awaited win for downtown Amarillo. "We've worked six to seven years to have these projects come to fruition," said Eades. "It's such an important catalyst for downtown development and I was really happy to see that some of our new council members agree that the hotel and garage need to move forward. Now we just have to decide what the MPEV will look like because that is the one remaining leg of the stool we have to work on at this point."

Now that the city has approved the parking garage for the hotel, the hotelier plans to start construction in mid-September.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10