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Victoria Council begin work toward convention center study

By Sonny Long
April 19, 2011 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2011 at 11:19 p.m.


COMMITTEE NOMINATIONS

Mayor Will Armstrong will make the final three nominations to a citizens committee on redistricting after council members presented their nominees on Tuesday. City manager Charmelle Garrett said the committee needed additional Hispanic representation to bring it more in line with Victoria's Hispanic population. The makeup of the committee, with the mayor's nominees, will be voted on at a future meeting. The nominees are:

District 1: Patricia Tally, Viola Saenz

District 2: Belinda Cardenas, Freddy Hobbs

District 3: Vic Caldwell, Cheryl Johnson

District 4: Laura Kinnison, Chad Byrd

District 5: Charla Borchers-Leon, Trinidad Ramos III

District 6: Wayne Dierlam, James Martinez

The Victoria City Council wants to know whether the city is ready for a convention center and hotel complex.

On Tuesday, it approved the first reading of an ordinance amending the budget to pay $30,000 for a hotel convention center feasibility study.

Mayor Will Armstrong said a company made a presentation to the city last fall about the possibility of building a convention center and hotel complex in Victoria, but also recommended the city study the possibility first.

Bridgette Bise, executive director of the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the lack of hotel rooms is a real problem in Victoria.

Bise said weekday occupancy rates in Victoria are at about 90 percent with weekend rates between 60 and 80 percent.

"We're probably about 500 rooms short in Victoria," said Bise, who added that Victoria has about 1,400 hotel rooms.

Both councilman David Hagan and Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation, agreed with Bise.

Hagan said the company he works for, Regency Nursing and Rehab Centers, brings people into town every week, and finding rooms is a "struggle."

Fowler added that the new Caterpillar plant will also likely draw people into town whether it's customers, suppliers, other Caterpillar people or those who just want to see the facility.

"My concern is where are they going to stay?" Fowler said.

City manager Charmelle Garrett said a feasibility study would determine whether Victoria needed hotel rooms only or hotels and a convention center.

"They will do a market analysis, site analysis, financial impact and economic impact," she said.

Garrett said a hotel and convention center complex could include a public/private partnership.

"Part of their job, too, will be to identify hotels that are willing to look at coming into to Victoria," she said.

Council must have a second and third reading before the budget amendment is final. A contract must also be approved. This could be done at the May 3 meeting, Garrett said.

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