Officials remain tight-lipped about the four vying for theproject, but GlobeSt.com has learned they are Garfield Corp. ofDallas, Landmark Organization of Austin and Atlanta-basedcompetitors Stormont Hospitality Group and Portman Development. Acity economic development committee hopes to have a recommendationto council in September, which will include the feasibility of asecond hotel at the Texas & Pacific Railroad Station alongLancaster Avenue.

Officials will be weighing their decision carefully since they,like their metropolis counterparts, are all at various stages ofconvention center expansions and public-private partnerships withhotel developers. The Ft. Worth decision to proceed comes whenTexas' pent-up supply far outweighs demand in the hospitalityindustry, Mark McDermott, vice president of ColliersInternational's hotel division in Dallas, tells GlobeSt.com. Thesaving grace, he adds, is that by the time Dallas, Ft. Worth,Houston, San Antonio and Austin deliver their convention projectsin 2002 and 2003 the hospitality industry most likely will haverecovered from a serious downturn.

Can North Texas' premier rival cities support the expandedconvention centers and supplemental hotels plus compete with the1,500-room Opryland's 400,000-sf of meeting and exhibit space?"That's the $64,000 question," says McDermott. One thing is sure:it can't hurt to have a larger convention center, he adds.

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