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ASTORIA, OR-City and Port officials here are joining forces in an attempt to develop a conference center it hopes will attract business to the area in the off-season. City officials confirmed for GlobeSt.com this week that the city council and the port commission both voted to move forward with the idea last week.

A 30,000-sf project would reportedly cost about $5.5 million, according to the agencies. Annual operating costs are estimated at $150,000.The city expects to fund the facility, which would be built on port land, with a two percentage point increase in the hotel-motel tax from 7% to 9%. The city also plans to create an urban renewal district that will allow it to use taxes from increased property values.

First, however, the two agencies will talk with business owners, county commissioners and hotel owners to better understand the effort they are undertaking and how to avoid pitfalls. In the meantime, the Port will start by retaining an architect to begin designing the project, and the two agencies will file a joint application with the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department for a low interest loan.

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