$272 million Convention Center hotel project moves forward with vote of Cuyahoga County Council

CLEVELAND - As crews worked installing the 200-foot long caissons at the site of the new Cleveland Convention Center hotel there was work of equal importance taking place just a few feet away.

Cuyahoga County Council approving a trio of resolutions, dealing with financing for the $272 million, 600-room hotel and the management agreement with Hilton that allow the project to move forward and stay on time.

"It's a fast pace but the actions taken by council today allow us to move forward," said Project Management Consultant Jeff Appelbaum. "The critical thing here is that we will have our financing done, our agreement with Hilton is done, our agreement with the design builder is done, our agreement with the Port is done and if you look out at the (construction) site you'll see that there's actually caissons going in the ground in good faith that this would be done."

The work was going on ahead of the council vote because time is of the essence. Appelbaum told council the hotel has a target completion date of April 1, 2016 with an anticipated opening date of June 1, 2016.

That would mean the hotel's first major convention would be the Republican National Convention should Cleveland be chosen to host it. An update of the hotel's progress will be part of the Republican National Committee's technical visit here April 30.

"When they come in there will be a presentation made to them assuring them that this hotel will be ready to go," Appelbaum said.

The hotel is being built by Turner Construction, the same company that built the convention center, a project that was finished early.

"We want to show that we're doing what we did with the convention center which is we were ahead of schedule and under budget," said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. "And the council's approval is a step in the right direction."

Still being worked out for the hotel is parking. Spots under the 30-story hotel were ruled out because of the foundation needed and cost.

The leading alternative at this point is the county owned Huntington Park garage across Lakeside Avenue. Hilton would need around 400 of the garage's more than 1,100 spaces. Options including a tunnel under Lakeside to the hotel may be considered.

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