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FRISCO, TX-Site work begins this week on a $60-million hotel and convention center, where bookings also have begun for a project that’s roughly 18 months from a ribbon-cutting.

James L. Gandy, president of the Frisco Economic Development Corp., tells GlobeSt.com that the interest for bookings validates the move to team with Hammons to get a convention center with an attached hotel, one of the few such pairings on the industry’s building circuit. Hammons and the city signed a 20-year contract with renewal options plus penned a ground lease for the hotel’s site area, according to Gandy.

Work on the 320-room Embassy Suites hotel leads off the project, with the 100,000-sf convention center set to break ground in four to six months. The buildings will deliver simultaneously in February 2005. The project features a 48,000-sf ballroom with a seating capacity of about 2,400 to make it the fourth-largest venue of its type in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The project’s vertical date has not been set, Gandy says.

The hotel-convention center combo will sit on a 75-acre tract along with a $26-million Dr. Pepper StarCenter, an ice skating arena that doubles as a training headquarters for the NHL’s Dallas Burn and Junior A Texas Tornado team, and the $28-million Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Ballpark for the Double AA Frisco Roughriders. A gymnastics facility will round out the athletic offerings of the Southwest Sports Realty’s master plan for the $300-million public-private undertaking, which also calls for 75,000 sf of retail, more than one million sf of class A, mid-rise office buildings, residential component and a second hotel. Four miles to the north of the project site, Hunt Sport Group acquired 144 acres for a $65-million soccer stadium.

Steve Minton of Springfield, MO-based John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc. is the architect for the hotel-convention center, which includes a 1,000-space parking garage. CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock, AR is the general contractor of the $40-million, privately funded hotel and $20-million city-funded convention center.

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