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COLUMBUS-Plans to build a 500-key hotel near the convention center were revealed Thursday. Current plans will place the hotel near the Greater Columbus Convention Center, at High Street and Nationwide Avenue.

The total development cost is estimated to be $160 million. The city of Columbus, Franklin County and the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority created the financing plan, which will use bed tax revenue, parking revenue and some of the convention center’s rent revenue to finance it.

As part of the 500-room hotel, a 300-spot, $10-million parking structure will be built. The hotel is slated to open in 2013, provided the project gains city approval.

“This is great progress for the City of Columbus and shows that the people in Central Ohio are committed to supporting and growing not only our convention business but the downtown district too,” Paul Tingley, EVP with Jones Lang LaSalle, tells GlobeSt.com “We have been short of full-service hotels downtown and the development is further evidence of the City’s commitment to investing in Columbus and making the city center a vibrant community.”

The addition of another hotel near the convention center has been in discussion since 2001. According to reports, the project was again studied in 2007 when Mayor Michael Coleman said the city needed to add to the existing supply of 3.200 rooms. However, at the time, a study found that to construct a 500-key hotel would cost too much, even for a private developer.

The development of a new hotel comes close on the heels of the growing debate about the construction of a Medical Mart. In the middle of February, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., a Vornado Realty Trust company, publicly shared its $425 million plan that would involve creating the mart at the corner of Mall Drive and St. Clair, the site of the city’s convention center. The company’s proposal flew in the face of Forest City Enterprises’ plan to build the Medical Mart on its Tower City Center site for $536 million.

The MMPI proposal won the approval of Cuyahoga County’s commissioners at the end of January, although the general plans were only made public in February. Forest City demanded time to develop a revised proposal to build the Medical Mart on the Tower City site and at a lower cost than MMPI’s $425 million. The project is in a holding pattern as both sides regroup.

But during Mayor Frank Jackson’s state of the city address Thursday he demanded action. “The Medical Mart along with a new convention center is an investment in this strength. The remaining questions surrounding this project must be resolved soon so that we can move forward,” he said.

And unlike other cities across the country, the economic downturn is not being felt as harshly here. “Cleveland is bucking national trends. At a time when cities across the country are struggling to fill deficits, Cleveland’s budget is balanced,” Mayor Jackson said. “At a time when banks have tightened credit, Cleveland is providing loans to local businesses. At a time when urban centers across America are seeing continued disinvestment, Cleveland is investing in its neighborhoods.”

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