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      A new downtown: Downtown Renovation Project unveiled

      Photo Credit: Artist Renderings

      Downtown Amarillo is about to change!

      The formal unveiling of the downtown renovation project was done Wednesday at the Local Government Corporation meeting.

      Phase one is made up of major changes and a final estimated cost of 108 million dollars.

      David Wallace of Wallace & Bajjali made the presentation to board members as the first hurdle of government entities that must give their approval. The proposal includes a multi-events center/baseball field south of City Hall where Coca Cola distributing now sits.

      West of City Hall will be a new 300 bed hotel and 750 space parking garage. By using private funding to coincide with public funding, the 108 million dollar price tag includes no new taxes for Amarillo citizens.

      "I think one of the fundamental philosophies we had coming into this particular project was no new taxes," said David Wallace of Wallace & Bajjali.

      "We're very fortunate that we've had many big businesses, financial institutions have stayed and as you can tell from going through downtown, we have a lot of gaps. Now we have the chance to fill that back in, not only keep what we have but bring in new and let all of us step forward together," said Jarrett Atkinson/Amarillo City Manager.

      It's more of a "you use it, you pay for it" thought process, with a 10 percent charge tacked onto events costs.In addition the new events center, hotel and parking garage will be given to the city of Amarillo and it in turn will contract with operators to run those entities, creating new revenue streams for the city.

      "It's providing additional revenue streams of sales tax, hotel motel tax all this additional economic stimulus into the community and that's exactly what we've been able to create," added Wallace.

      Amarillo City Commissioner Dr.. Brian Eades said, "We're creating an economic engine. You're not going to just see changes by City Hall, you'll see changes on Polk, Tyler, extending north and south and a lot of additional jobs and additional traffic from all over the region that we haven't seen before."

      The local government corporation may make it's recommendation on the project as early as next week. City Commissioners will get their first glimpse next Tuesday and it will intimately be up to them to give the go-ahead. If that happens, Hotel, garage and Ball field would be on the schedule for completion by 2014.

      Phase two will look at renovations to the Civic Center and that will be taken up within the next couple months. if you'd like to express your opinion or sit in on the next public meeting on the downtown renovation project, it will be next Monday night at the Civic Center at 6 p.m.