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Wilmington responds to convention center hotel challenge

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington is responding ahead of the latest court fight over the hotel at the Wilmington Convention Center.

The city says it has been told an attorney for Glenn Wells, a taxpayer who has been wrangling with the city for years over the deal, will file a show cause motion in New Hanover County Superior Court today about the Convention Center hotel.

In the motion, Wells asks the city to show why it is not in contempt of an August 2006 consent order based on a compromise reached between Wells, his fellow plaintiffs and the city. The deal includes a provision that “(n)o public funds of any nature shall be used to acquire, build, equip, operate or otherwise underwrite or subsidize the Hotel or its operations.”

In his show cause motion, Wells says the city’s sale of property to the hotel’s developer for $578,200 is substantially less than the value of the land appraised last fall for $1.32 million. Wells argues that means “$741,800 in public funds are apparently being used to underwrite or subsidize the Hotel, in violation of the Order.”

In a news release the city says it is limited what it can say about the pending legal matter, but it did issue a statement.

“We are very disappointed to learn about this motion, especially since there has been such overwhelming public support from citizens across our community who want to see this important economic development project completed,” the statement reads. “The city believes very strongly that we are in full compliance with all state laws and the 2006 consent decree and we are confident that the court will rule in our favor.”

Harmony Hospitality plans to build a $33 million Embassy Suites next to the Convention Center. Mayor Bill Saffo has said it could bring in $800,000 a year to the city.


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