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Westin Element (7 stories on Haywood Street)

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First a bit of history. If you remember from back in 2005 or so, the city was planning on building a public parking deck and a building on land at the corner of Haywood and Page, directly opposite the Civic Center. The proposal was finalized and went to a vote in council and did not pass, so it was abandoned, but the city had wound up amassing a good deal of property on that corner for the project. Wanting to dispose of the land, they issued a RFP for developers and got a response from McKibbon Group (Sound familiar? They're building the Aloft currently.) The original proposal was to incorporate public parking, but since the Aloft is taking all the parking revenue, that part of the project is being abandoned.

After sitting for several year,s it seems the city wants to sell off the land and McKibbon still wants to buy it. They plan to build a seven-story hotel, a Westin Element, with 130 rooms. Details here.

Enter the controversy. The Catholic Diocese actually wants to buy the land and develop some of it while retaining the rest of it as a public plaza. They are actually offering more money for the land than McKibbon. I'm not really sure why the city wants to go with McKibbon. Maybe it has something to do with the 2007 RFP and the agreement they had with McKibbon at the time. Or McKibbon's proven track record with getting the Aloft built. Or maybe the Basilica would probably just use the property as parking for the forseeable future. Or maybe the city wants the land to be in private hands so they can get tax revenue out of it. Who knows.

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