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Hotel partnership sought

The events center needs a hotel partner, city officials said Monday.

City Manager John Chattin said there is interest, citing several calls he has received from hotel and motel developers inquiring about the project.

But the city has not, to date, had a plan in place on how to move toward negotiating an agreement.

"We need to establish a process to deal with this," Chattin said during Monday's work session.

The city already is working with Wayzata-based Conventions, Sports and Leisure for a study on the projected cost for operations and maintenance of the facility. Chattin said CSL also could assist in planning for such a hotel partnership, but it would be at a cost.

According to an e-mail from Bill Krueger with CSL, the firm can offer transaction assistance, identify viable partners, work on financial analysis, develop a potential lease and lead negotiations toward completion of the transaction.

Chattin said the city needs to develop a list of the criteria it wants from a hotel developer, such as whether he or she would be asked to take over operations and maintenance of the convention center and how much he or she would pay toward construction.

"Those are all details we need to work out," he said. "I think CSL can help with that.

The Bemidji City Council voted 6-1 to direct Chattin to talk with CSL and obtain a potential proposal for services.

Mayor Richard Lehmann said he would be interested in knowing if any local companies could perform similar services.

"I want to see as much local involvement as possible," he said, encouraging local companies to contact City Hall if they were interested.

Krueger's e-mail depicted two possibilities for how CSL would consider charging for its services, such as charging 1 percent of hard construction costs, payable once the deal is complete; or charging an hourly rate with a monthly not-to-exceed cost.

Chattin said he would prefer the second option.

Councilor Roger Hellquist voted against the motion. Following the meeting, he said he would have liked to have more information presented before the motion was considered.