City Council unanimously approves downtown hotel
The Evansville City Council made it unanimous Monday night approving a funding plan for the downtown convention hotel.
It was a 9-0 vote for a plan that has been in the works for years.
There was a standing ovation for the council's unanimous vote followed by Mayor Lloyd Winnecke's signature. It officially sets in motion the process of building a new convention hotel in downtown Evansville.
"It is truly a great day," the mayor said.
For Winnecke, the vote is a victory.
Past administrators tried three times to pass a similar project.
Winnecke admits his own plan was on life support until members of the business community stepped up and helped to lower the amount of public investment in the project.
"I think it's clear to say we would not be here tonight celebrating a huge win for the city if not for the private sector investment in this project," said Winnecke.
"This is really democracy at work," said City Council President Connie Robinson, who just a few weeks ago announced she planned to vote against the Mayor's plan.
Now she says it came down to compromise from all sides that in the end will benefit the public.
"The subsidy would have been a lot more than it was if we hadn't done our research, looked into the numbers," said Robinson.
"We've created a model agree that the rest of the country will look at when they do their projects now that everyone has to stand in the game," said Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley. "Not just the public, but the private businesses as well as the developers."
An hour before City Council made their unanimous vote, Winnecke and local labor leaders sign a labor agreement.
City Council requested that this agreement be signed before they voted.
Union leaders didn't release too many details of the agreements signed, but they say it's a good one that benefits them and the city.
The labor unions say this agreement ensures the project will be complete with local skilled labor.
They didn't give specifics on the project, but did say it's one that's worked before on other project.
Union leaders say they are now ready to break ground and get this project going. They say this will be a very good project and one the community will be proud of.
An exact timeline has not yet been set, but developers tell 14 News ground could be broken by January.