WF leaders looking at options after hotel financing deal falls through
WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - A project for a full-service hotel and conference center next to the MPEC is back to square one with the most recent financing deal being denied.
Wichita Falls city leaders are frustrated.
They are frustrated that right now there is not a full-service hotel and conference center being built.
They are frustrated that the latest financial deal fell through.
"We have let them know that patience is wearing a little thin," Deputy City Manager, Jim Dockery said. "So they have really taken it upon themselves to really put a hard effort into seeing what is out there."
Two and a half months ago city leaders thought a financial deal was in place, something they had been working on with developer Gatehouse Capital for close to a year.
"We thought we had that loan tied up," Dockery said. "All indications were green and positive."
But the city backed out at the end after the lending bank asked the city to back pay for a policy in case the hotel didn't succeed, almost like co-signing for a loan.
"We just felt like that wasn't a prudent financial decision for the city," Dockery said.
So now they are back to the beginning, hoping a new approach by Gatehouse Capital to hire a broker and have them solicit all lenders works.
Dockery said Gatehouse Capital gets one more chance before they start exploring other options.
"We just haven't been successful in putting the deal together," Dockery said. "And if that continues for much longer, we will open it up to other hotel developers."
Managing Developer of Woodbine Development Dupree Scovell said he's not surprised a deal isn't done.
"The population count is not the same as some of the major metros that they're lending in," Scovell said. "The demand drivers you would normally expect like airports, entertainment venues, hospitals, major corporations, those are not there at the same scale. That then makes a lender a little more anxious."
Dockery thinks despite the setback, a deal will get done.
"Whether it gets done with Gatehouse Capital or some other developer, that's certainly up in the air," Dockery said.
"When you're this close, it's rare that the thing just totally crumbles at the 11th hour," Scovell said. "People need to move because the reality is that time kills all deals."
Dockery said the city should have a much better idea in about four to six weeks on whether a deal will work with Gatehouse Capital or they will have to start exploring other options with different developers.
Dockery said the city will not give up on this project because it's a huge need.
He said it's needed to spur the economy because Wichita Falls is missing out on a lot outside money because they can't attract a lot of conventions they would be able to otherwise.
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