BOSTON-Its deadline time for the development team picked to develop and operate the South Boston convention center hotel. The joint venture of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and Carpenter & Co. has to post a $14 million nonrefundable deposit and say it will go forward on the $270 million hotel or give up the project.

What is at stake is the future of the convention center Patrick Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, tells “We need the hotel for the convention center to succeed,” he says. “Symbolically, to show that we can get this done and practicall,y to show conventions that there is a hotel here for their people.” The 1,120-room hotel is the only one of its size proposed near the convention center.

The Starwood team has been struggling to come up with financing for the hotel. The company nearly gave up on the project about six months ago but was given two extensions to arrange financing. Hoping to make the deal more appealing to investors, financial concessions have also been made by both sides–with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority agreeing to reduce the annual rent and the Starwood team agreeing to accept a smaller development fee. The last piece of that puzzle is the request the team made to the city for tax abatement under Section 121A of state law. Starwood has made it clear that it believes that that is crucial to the success of the deal but it is unclear whether the city will agree to it. The issue was further complicated when city treasurer Edward Collins, who is handling the project for the city, suffered a stroke this past Tuesday night.

“Starwood believes the tax abatement triggers a green light for financing,” Moscaritolo points out. “There is a causal relationship between all these factors.” The city was initially very resistant to provide the tax break but, says Moscaritolo, if everybody else was willing to make the deal go through by giving financial concessions the city is going to look more favorably on the issue.

If Starwood does drop out, last year’s runner-up- the team of Marriott International Inc. and Boston Properties Inc. would be the new contenders. But the financing issues will be the same and Moscaritolo believes that the project will probably be put out to bid again, which would mean up to a year’s delay. That would mean having the convention center opening before the hotel opening. “That is a less than preferred selling position for the convention center,” says Moscaritolo. But, he adds, “Everybody is optimistic that there will be a positive resolution.”

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