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City approves Embassy Suites agreement and capital needs committee

City approves Embassy Suites agreement and capital needs committee
September 21
12:30 2017

The Winston-Salem City Council voted to maintain its arrangement in Embassy Suites with the hotel’s new owners and approved a committee to look at capital needs for a potential 2018 bond referendum during its Monday, Sept. 18, meeting.

In 2004, the city purchased for $10 million 38,000 square feet of meeting and support space on the lower level of Embassy Suites, along with the Grande Pavilion ballroom. The city leases the space to the hotel’s owners for $600,000 annually  to cover the it’s debt payment from the purchase of the space. That ownership is about to change as Hospitality Ventures Management Group, which owns both Embassy Suites and the Marriott and manages The Benton,  is in negotiations with Premiere Management, LLC to sale Embassy Suites to SH Winston Cherry, LLC. The city owned space would be managed by another Premiere company, PM Meeting Venue, LLC.

The resolution passed in the consent agenda on Monday preserves the city’s agreement with the new owners. Staff at the hotel is expected to remain unchanged by the sale as the operations model will be the same. Operations at The Benton, which is the new name for the renovated Benton Convention Center, will also be unchanged.

Also during the meeting, the City Council approved appointments to the Citizens Capital Needs Committee. The committee will review the city’s capital needs and make recommendations that may become a bond referendum next year. This is the same method used for the 2014 bonds. The members of the committee are Chairperson Glenn Orr, Jr., Malisha Woodbury, Walter “Wrennie” Pitt, Jr., Amy Taylor North, April Ruffin-Adams, Billy Rich, Mark Dunnagan, Charles Fernandez, Gayle Anderson, Jimmy Flythe and Nicole Little. The committee’s first meeting will be held today at 1:30 p.m. in City Hall.

During the public comment period, Carly Williams thanked the council for work that’s been done at Easton Park. Last month, she spoke to the City Council saying the park needed upkeep. She said the grass had become overgrown and the trail was damaged by a storm. Since that meeting, she’s talked with City Council member James Taylor, who is also the Chronicle’s publisher, and walked the trail with Recreation and Parks Director William Royston. She said the park’s issues have been taken care of.

“I’ve seen drastic improvements,” she said. “Thank you for not forgetting about us tucked over in that little corner.”

She also suggested to the council that the city acquire an unoccupied house for sale near the park and turn it into a community center called the Mary Thacker Activity Center and Urban Farm, which would be named after the  current owner’s late mother. Mayor Allen Joines said that they’ll take a “hard look at that” as they consider upcoming bonds.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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