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Convention Center hotel moves forward after long-awaited approval

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A convention center hotel is one step closer to becoming reality in Wilmington.

The developer planning on building an Embassy Suites got approval for its financial plan after waiting more than a year.

“We’re making every valid attempt to make this happen,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.

Wilmington City Council selected Harmony Hospitality back in 2011 to develop the Convention Center hotel. The 186-room Embassy Suites is closer to being a reality after the federal government approved Harmony’s EB-5 investment plan earlier this month. The company had waited more than a year for approval.

“That gave them the opportunity to go out and look for outside investors to go into the project,” Saffo said. “It was an important component for this deal for Harmony Hospitality.”

The EB-5 program allows foreign investors interested in contributing to the $33.6 million project a permanent green card. Harmony Hospitality says it is looking for between 10 and 15 investors to put up at least $500,000 each.

The EB-5 for the hotel is not tied to the EB-5 for another hotel and marina being built next door by Chuck Schoninger, the developer who just sold land nearby to the city for a park.

“This is a separate EB-5 program, separate of Mr. Schoninger’s deal all together,” Saffo said.

Leaders say an agreement between the city and harmony hospitality is being finalized so it can be brought before council either the first or second meeting in January.

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