EDC releases $6.2 mil to hotel project

A downtown and waterfront area of Marble Falls is to become home to a $25.3 million hotel-conference center based on an agreement with Novak Cobalt Partners, LLC, developers. The Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation has alloted $6.2 million and land to the project.

BY GLYNIS CRAWFORD SMITH/THE HIGHLANDER

The Marble Falls Economic Development Board of directors on Wednesday, Aug. 3, committed $6.2 million to the $25.3 million waterfront hotel conference center agreement with Novak Cobalt Partners, LLC.

The action came after approval of the formal term sheet between the EDC and the developer for a 90-year lease of property between Lakeside Park and the Hampton Inn. The lease, with a purchase option after three years. Specified is a $200,000 annual lease payment, as well as an additional rent payment of 25 percent of annual room revenue exceeding $2 million.

Through a long process of EDC and stakeholder meetings and public forums, the project has evolved to the statement that became part of Wednesday's agreement for: “a select service level resort hotel of approximately 150 keys and adjacent full-service conference center, restaurant and bar” (approximately 16,000 square feet on two levels).

The agreement recognizes the public realm projects considered critical to construction and to be funded by rent from the project. Those include a lakeside amphitheater; a Lakeside Park trail/boardwalk; a botanical garden and covered bridge on the northeast peninsula; a lakeside/creekside beach, lake walk, cabana and fountain features, and a Johnson Park bridge connection to the project.

One other specified project occupied some discussion by the board. That is the demolition and relocation of the Lakeside Park boat ramp, a facility owned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

“In August or September we should be on the Transportation Commission agenda,” said City Manager Mike Hodge. “We want them to abandon the right of way and release it to us. I believe they will, if we agree to reconstruction of the boat ramp within 12 months. The clock would start when we take out the existing ramp.”

The biggest TxDOT goal would be to preserve public access to the lake, explained Assistant City Manager Caleb Kraenzel.

In this early stage, Wednesday's discussion was confined to financing and scheduling the work if TxDOT agrees to the project.

The board approved a draft of the 2016-2017 budget but took no action on assigning money from the Community Leverage Fund to an Accountable Community project proposed by Sam Silverstein, Inc.

Midge Dockery, business development coordinator, explained that she met Silverstein at a Texas Economic Development Council meeting. The encounter led to the inspirational speaker conducting a “core values” roundtable with Burnet County elected officials, key city staff members and educators on May 13.

Silverstein proposes to continue that dialog in a pilot program of meetings for leaders in Marble Falls and the surrounding area. Each entity involved in deepening a mutual understanding of values and accountability is being asked to contribute to an estimated $48,000 price tag.

Members seemed generally to agree to learn more about the project and the amount others would contribute. EDC Board President Steve Reitz suggested waiting to look at the Community Leverage Fund balance at the end of the budget year in September.

 

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