PORTLAND --The prospect of a Oregon Convention Center hotel is closer to becoming a reality.
Planners say without a hotel, the OCC gets passed over for large national conventions.
But this week's vote of confidence from Oregon lawmakers, with $10 million in Oregon Lottery funds to help build it, means the long wait may be finally over.
"Meeting planners tell us it's a key element for a city like Portland that's on the rise in terms of attracting conventions," said Jeff Miller, CEO of Travel Portland.
This week, many of those planners are in town. They're part of Travel Portland's customer advisory board.
Jack Saunders is in town from Washington, D.C. He scouts the country for convention space for the National Forum for Black Administrations.
"It makes the overall hotel package more useful and more acceptable to a convention," he said.
The proposed Grand Hyatt will have 600 rooms. Most will be dedicated for convention business. The projected cost is $197 million. The money will come from private funding, Hyatt Hotels and Minnesota-based Mortensen Development.
Ten million comes from the Oregon Lottery Fund. An additional $8 million in grants and loans come from Metro and the Portland Development Commission. The remaining $60 million will be paid over 30 years using the state lodging tax.
"If you don't have that hotel directly adjacent, we can't bring our attendees because the attendees demand that," said Terry Dresler, General Manager of Metro Visitors Venues.
But there is opposition to the hotel plan. The Coalition for Fair Budget Priorities, representing many of Portland's top hotels said the plan is a risk.
"Over $100 million is being given to a highly profitable international hotel corporation. We feel that's too risky for local taxpayers who barely fund our top priorities now," said coalition spokesperson Paige Richardson.
The city, county and Metro still must vote on the funding aspect of the plan. If all goes as they hope, groundbreaking will take place next spring. The hotel is schedule to open in 2016.