News | Local

Convention Center Hotel Project Takes Center Stage Again

OPB | June 19, 2014 4:45 p.m. | Portland

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The Metro Council’s public hearing Thursday on the proposed Convention Center hotel revived debate over the $212 million project.

Supporters touted the possible convention business and other economic benefits of a new Hyatt hotel. Critics argue voters should get to vote on the deal’s $78 million in promised public subsidy.

Metro president Tom Hughes defends leaving the decision to elected officials. He says voters had their say when they re-elected him.

“It was a fairly comfortable win for me. So, in my view, we’ve put the question to the voters, and the voters have responded,” Hughes says.

But Sandeep Kaushik, who represents a coalition of opponents, including operators of existing Portland hotels sees it differently.

“I think we would respectfully disagree with that. We don’t think there’s been a really robust and substantial public debate around it. We think that there should be. While we do have representative democracy in this country, we also in the state of Oregon and in many states in the Northwest, have a cherished tradition of initiative and referendum.”

The Metro Council is slated to vote on the hotel deal, next Thursday.

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