BRADENTON, Fla. — The Birmingham, Ala., City Council approved the sale of up to $75 million of revenue bonds Tuesday for the construction of a 300-room Westin Hotel and creation of a downtown restaurant and entertainment district near the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center.
The council also approved a pre-development agreement with the convention center authority, which owns the land and plans to enter into a qualified management contract for the hotel, according to assistant city attorney Jim Stanley. The hotel will be built by Atlanta-based National Ventures Group LLC.
The bonds will be sold by the Birmingham Commercial Development Authority, an infrequent conduit issuer that is believed to have sold small, unrated bond issues in the past that were privately placed.
The council authorized the CDA to move forward with the hotel and entertainment district financing, but it is not yet certain if the bonds will be sold in the municipal bond market.
A portion of the city’s existing lodging and occupational taxes will secure the bonds.
With the occupational tax due to expire at the end of next year and the lodging tax expiring in five years, both funding sources were extended Tuesday for 30 years to coincide with the life of the bonds to be issued.
The council delayed action on another planned downtown project, which was the funding plan for a minor league team’s baseball stadium.
Council member Johnathan Austin said all three economic development projects represent an opportunity to spur growth in Birmingham and attract other development.
“We are not just building a hotel, an entertainment district, and a baseball park,” he said. “We are investing in the infrastructure of our city.”
The 60,000-square foot hotel and entertainment district is part of a long-planned expansion of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center.
Those plans once called for expanding the convention center’s exhibition space and building a multi-purpose domed stadium.
Some council members were concerned about the current plan, which does not include expanding the exhibit space.
Birmingham Mayor William Bell said there has never been enough money to do all of the projects but that he will continue searching for ways to fund the expansion.
No information was available about when the CDA might sell the bonds. The deal is expected to be a combination of taxable and tax-exempt financing.