Mayor Winnecke shares concerns about future of proposed downtown - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Mayor Winnecke shares concerns about future of proposed downtown hotel

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Mayor Lloyd Winnecke admitted to 14 News that he is now concerned about the future of the proposed downtown convention hotel project following the latest setback. 

During a news conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Winnecke addressed the media about the story 14 News broke Sunday night.

The firm hired by the city council to look into developer HCW's past projects suddenly quit and blamed HCW for not handing over the paperwork needed to complete the council's report.  

The mayor called that disappointing at Monday's meeting, but he said it will not stall the project. He said he spoke with members of the city council and answered their questions in hopes of keeping this project moving forward.  

Mayor Winnecke also released a memo Monday night that he said corrects some misinformation concerning the proposed convention hotel.

Mayor Winnecke said he shared the four-page memo to set the record straight because he said the city's fourth try at building a convention hotel downtown could be its last.

"I'm certainly starting to be concerned," Mayor Winnecke said.

On the phone from over a thousand miles away in Arizona, where Mayor Winnecke was visiting family, he admitted for the first time that he was concerned about the future of his downtown hotel, as the process to fund the project continued to be delayed as some council members demanded personal information from the developer.

"If we want to really be serious about attracting new corporations to town or attracting a medical school to downtown, we've got to be respectful of the people who are willing to invest millions of dollars into our city," Mayor Winnecke said.

In hopes to keep the current plan alive, the mayor released a memo from the author of the Hunden report. The report that studied the downtown hotel project and is often cited by supporters and opponents of the project.  

In the memo written to Mayor Winnecke, Rob Hunden addressed what he called incorrect statements made by local developer John Dunn and City Council Finance Chairman John Friend.

He wrote, "John Dunn, in particular, has cherry picked our report and also used half-truths or misstatements to convince people of his position."

He then goes on to criticize Friend's financial analysis of the project stating, 'many of his findings are not true.'  

The mayor is hoping council members will take the information in the memo to heart and reschedule their vote to fund the project.

"I believe if a deal doesn't happen here it will be a long, long time before a convention hotel is considered again in downtown Evansville," Mayor Winnecke said.

Mayor Winnecke said he called a meeting with the leadership of the council for this week to discuss where the project stands.  

14 News spoke to a few members of the council Monday night who admitted that they're not sure where things go from here.  

If you would like to read the memo the mayor released, click here.

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