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Kalahari incentives decision delayed
Kalahari incentives won't come out until next year


Date published: 12/9/2007

BY EMILY BATTLE

A vote on the proposed grant to the Fredericksburg Expo and Convention Center and a look at the incentives the city plans to offer a water-park hotel will have to wait until the new year.

Those items had been scheduled for the City Council's meeting next Tuesday, but in a memorandum to the council this week, the city manager reported that both deals are still being negotiated.

With the Expo Center deal, city staff have proposed granting $300,000 a year to the center for three years.

The Silver Cos. would help out with $100,000 the first year and $50,000 for each of the remaining years.

Expo Center owner Tom Ballantine has said he will use the money to make stronger bids for large group conferences. Right now, he said, he loses money on those events with the rates he must charge to compete with publicly financed convention centers.

The city, however, stands to make much more from large group events than from the consumer shows and expos that are already regularly booked at the center, according to Ballantine and city officials.

Council members were to vote on the proposal on Tuesday, but City Manager Phillip Rodenberg reported this week that the city is still negotiating the performance measures the center will be held to, the method of tracking those measures and other aspects of the agreement.

The vote has been pushed to the council's Jan. 8 meeting.

Also Tuesday, council members were to publicly receive the terms of the incentives deal and performance agreement meant to lure Kalahari Resorts to Celebrate Virginia.

Kalahari has said Fredericksburg competed with Williamsburg and Hanover County for the 710-room hotel and 295,000-square-foot water park.

But the terms of the incentives deal are apparently taking more time to finalize.

City officials now say the council and public will get them shortly before the council's Jan. 8 meeting.

They've suggested holding a public hearing Jan. 15--when there's not a regularly scheduled council meeting--so that the council could vote on the agreement Jan. 22.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com