Wichita Falls DoubleTree hotel project experiencing delays

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Efforts to bring a full-service DoubleTree hotel and conference center to Wichita Falls have been in the works for months.

But the project is now being delayed. The city is ready to go with their finances, but the same cannot be said of Gatehouse Capital.

The city will pay for $10 million of the hotel with 4B money and issue certificates of obligation for a conference center that will cost just over $7.5 million.

All that money is ready to go. Now they are working with Gatehouse Capital to get a deal in place for a loan.

"We don't want to rush the project," Wichita Falls Mayor, Stephen Santellana said. "Although we want it, we want to do it right. That way it's the best bang for the buck."

City leaders have been working with Gatehouse Capital for months on a project to bring Wichita Falls a full-service hotel and conference center, something they believe would bring in more conferences and be a big boost for the local economy.

But for Gatehouse Capital, the project has hit a roadblock.

"They've had a difficult time putting together a consortium of local banks that have the wherewithal and desire to finance the entire $20 million dollars," Deputy City Manager, Jim Dockery said.

He said it is because it is too much money for the local banks to loan. Now they are looking to banks in the metroplex for help.

"We need to continue to work with the local banks to see what level of interest they may have," Dockery said. "And with the metroplex banks to see if we can't put together a package."

Mayor Santellana said he is not surprised or worried about the delay.

"The financial piece is probably the most complicated piece to this whole structure," Mayor Santellana said. "So we anticipated this might happen."

Dockery said part of the delay is due to an aggressive timetable put in place by the city.

Mayor Santellana said they want to be transparent with the public about every step of the project.

"Step by step I want the public to be able to approach us and ask questions," Mayor Santellana said. "We should have very clear and concise answers on why these things are happening."

Dockery said they hope to have all the finances worked out near the end of July so they can start taking action on these items at city council.

He said they were hoping to break ground in the early fall, but are now hoping that will happen in late fall.

Dockery and Mayor Santellana both believe once they go back to the local banks with a smaller loan, they will be more willing to invest.

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