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bigboyz05

Convention Center In Works For Crossroads Park

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After putting in late nights and long hours, Texarkana, Ark., officials announced Monday a local investor was planning to build a convention center in Crossroads Business Park.

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After putting in late nights and long hours, Texarkana, Ark., officials announced Monday a local investor was planning to build a convention center in Crossroads Business Park.

�We had three or four parties interested, and about three months ago, a local investor stepped up to the plate,� said City Manager Harold Boldt. �It�s been an up-and-down process, a lot of sleepless nights, but this is a sizable boost to Texarkana, Ark.�

Convention center plans have been contentious for the Arkansas side. A feasibility study for a center done in May and paid for by Arkansas showed Crossroads Business Park as the best location.

�Unfortunately, it was determined that the person we were dealing with at that time wasn�t going to build it on the Arkansas side. It was very disappointing at the time,� Boldt said.

Those developers decided the best location for them was in Texarkana, Texas. But Boldt said that didn�t stop him from trying to draw a public/private partnership for a hotel and convention center complex in the business park.

�At one point in time, we had three different parties interested, but until three months ago we finally had an investor that happens to be local. The investor was willing to step up to the plate,� he said. �We�ve had things not to materialize out there, so I�m relieved. This investor hung in there with us.�

Ward 3 Board Member Londell Williams said the news of a convention center is a shot in the arm for his city.

�It�s a great thing. Anything to help the health, wealth and well-being of Texarkana, Ark., is a great thing,� Williams said.

The identity of the investor is anonymous for now at the investor�s request. Boldt said little loose ends needed to be tied up, preventing the news from being released previously.

�Once a site plan has been turned into the city, his name will be announced,� Boldt said. �Right now, we have a partner signing a contract.�

Boldt said more details could be released later. However, the 9 or more acres at the Crossroads site will contain a complex of up to 20,000 square feet.

�It�s going to be a pretty sizable complex,� he said. �And there are other things working at Crossroads, but the most important is we do have a hotel/convention partner. Why is it important? Because we have a contract now where we didn�t have one before.�

Mayor Horace Shipp, on hand at Monday�s announcement, said it�s been a long-awaited one. �Anytime there�s any possibility for good things to happen at the business park, I�m excited and in support of it,� Shipp said. �I�m anxious for the board to roll on this.�

The Board of Directors is scheduled to meet, putting together an incentive package for the investor. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is also expected to weigh in on the center with tax credits.

Boldt said he couldn�t put a dollar amount on the economic benefit either in money brought in or in jobs, but it would be significant. The city is trying to bring in a restaurant, with the possibility of bringing 174 jobs with it, into the same area. Phase 2 of the park-continuation of a road built through the park to Jefferson Avenue-is now under way.

The Arkansas-side convention center won�t have any issues with plans for a similar venue across the state line.

�The study we did justified the center on the Arkansas side in the Crossroads Business Park. Nothing�s changed in that regard. I�m not motivated by what happens over there,� said Boldt. �We would like to have something of value out there, something that adds value to all of Texarkana. You can turn and look at the Texas side-I�m very envious of them. But I think if we�re careful, we can find things that add greater value than what you see.�

Texarkana Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Sandford said the center is one more tool for promoting Texarkana, USA.

�We�ve been involved in tourism for many years. This is another venue that will allow for more tourism-type events to come to our area. If this is for the betterment of Texarkana, USA, then we want to be a part of helping that proceed,� Sandford said.

Though details regarding the investor, the cost and incentives to be given are sketchy, Boldt said there�s good reason for it.

�We�re guarded. It�s a competitive environment. We don�t want to give out names and plans and have someone else try and take over,� he said.

�When someone is willing to invest this kind of many, they�re cautious too. It�s not a negative reflection on anyone, but we�re all just careful of who we talk to,� Boldt said. �But I feel total relief about this. We�re excited about it. I�m happy for Texarkana, Ark., and we�re trying to make things happen.�

Barring any problems with the financing, the investor�s name and other details are expected to be released in about six weeks.

I can't wait until this is built.

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this is one of the things ive been checking on just about everyday since it was announced. I usually check the online texarkana gazette or the texarkana ar city page for more info.. only thing is... there is no more info since september. Im guessing they are running into problems yet again. Why wont they consider a downtown location for this?

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