3 developers bid for proposed Salt Lake convention hotel

3 developers bid for proposed Salt Lake convention hotel

(Rick Bowmer/AP Photo)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Three development firms submitted proposals Friday to build a large hotel near Salt Lake City's convention center and take advantage of at least $75 million in possible tax credits.

Salt Lake County announced the three firms that turned in proposals by a 2 p.m. deadline were Austin, Texas-based RLB Swerdling and two Utah firms: JLJL in Midvale and DDRM Cos. in Sandy.

A county bid committee will meet Jan. 14 to review the proposals for the 800- to 1,000-room hotel.

Alyson Heyrend, a spokeswoman for Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, said details about the proposals are confidential until a decision by the bid committee.

The county had been negotiating with Omni Hotels & Resorts, but that deal fell through in August when the company sought a heftier incentive package from the government.

Besides the $75 million in tax credits Utah is offering, the county is willing to add up to $25 million, McAdams has said. But the county said Omni sought $15 million in upfront cash and refused to provide room rate protections for conventions.

McAdams said that deal would be bad for taxpayers.

Utah officials pushing for the long-awaited Salt Lake City hotel argue it would provide needed rooms for Utah's convention business, including a lucrative biannual outdoor gear show.

In October 2014, Omni initially was the only bidder for the project, but the county decided to reissue the proposal and sweeten it by including two parcels of government-owned land on the south and north ends of the convention center that could be used to build a connected hotel.

Two of the development companies that submitted bids Friday said they're considering using that county land.

DDRM is looking at using the northern parcel for a 1,200- to 1,600-room building that could include condos and hotel rooms, according to the company's operations manager, Eric Hull.

Hull said if the company wins the project, DDRM may try to partner with Starwood Hotels, which owns the St. Regis in Park City.

John Lund, the founder and CEO of JLJL, said his company envisions a narrow building at least 50 stories tall, possibly on the county land on the south end of the convention center.

"It would be the tallest in Salt lake, if it gets approved," Lund said.

Lund said JLJL is a new company formed by a group of partners with a background in construction and development, including housing projects.

Lund said they sat out the first round of bidding because the timing wasn't right for them, but after talks fell through with Omni, they jumped to form JLJL with the hope of using the project as a springboard for a new hotel brand.

Lund declined to disclose the name they envision for the hotel brand but said it would be "millennial and technology focused."

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