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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A judge has ruled in favor of the City of Wilmington in a challenge about whether the city followed a 2006 legal agreement that outlined out the convention center hotel could be built.

Taxpayer Glenn Wells had filed suit questioning whether the city had improperly subsidized the sale of property for the hotel to a developer. Wells argued the $578,200 sales price for property appraised at about $1.32 million violated a 2006 consent order that prevented taxpayer money going toward the project.

In his decision, Judge Paul L. Jones ruled the city did not violate the deal. He ruled that the sales factored in extra costs and considerations associated with Harmony’s agreement with the city to build an Embassy Suites on the site, including brownfield mitigation.

“We are very pleased with the judge’s ruling, because it validates what we have said all along,” Mayor Bill Saffo said in a statement. “The city has been, and will continue to be, in full compliance the 2006 consent decree. We look forward to moving as quickly as possible so that we can begin to realize the economic benefits of this important project.”

The city estimates the hotel will generate $6.4 million in property and sales tax over the next 10 years, while also creating 346 construction jobs and 207 jobs once the hotel in built.

In February, City Council approved an agreement with Harmony Hospitality to purchase land and construct a 186-room, full service Embassy Suites next to the Wilmington Convention Center. The $33.6 million hotel will include a full-service restaurant, bar, pool and additional meeting space. The city will also get parking revenue from the facility.

Since February, Harmony has continued to work on completing the final hotel design and easement acquisitions and expects to begin construction late this summer. Construction is expected to be completed by early 2016.


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