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TROY, MI-Six developers are divided over whether a proposed $252 million private-public development for the Civic Center area in Troy is worth building.

Most of the developers believe a performing arts theater portion of the project, which also includes a larges conference center and hotel, should be removed or set back as a second phase.

The developers include: Acquest Realty & Management, Frankel Associates, Garfield Taub Development, Hines, Liberty Property Trust and the Marriott Corp. The city asked the developers to offer their advice after releasing details about the desired project.

The Downtown Development Authority has proposed a conference center of 100,000 sf to 250,000 sf, a hotel with up to 400 rooms, a 5,000-seat performing arts theater, up to three restaurants and up to 6,000 sf of retail space. Public space would include an amphitheater, water elements, landscaped festival areas, a skating rink, trails and benches. A 100,000 sf office building was proposed, but the city council rejected that part of the plan for now.

State officials have told the city that it would take two years to raise the estimated $40 million of state money to help fund a conference center. According to John Szerlag, the city manager, most of the developers say that financing of the project is too iffy to consider seriously. “A majority of them would submit an RFP if financing could be structured via tax-exempt bonds or some other mechanism,” Szerlag said.

Additionally, some developers expressed concern about the size and configuration of the 11-acre footprint to house site plan elements. “These concerns would be mitigated if the performing arts center was taken out of the equation,” Szerlag said. “One developers believes it is not in the community’s best interest to pursue this development.” Szerlag would not identify which developer said what during a recent joint meeting with the DDA and the city. The comments of the uninterested developer included that financing is not clear past the year 2009.

Now, city officials will discuss financing options with consultant Bob Bendzinnski and Joel Piell of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone. It’s expected this meeting will occur by the end of this June.

A public vote about project elements could occur as early as November. The site already features a Marriott hotel and office buildings, located across from city hall, police and fire stations, the library, a community center, an aquatic center and a nature center.

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