Hilton Hotels & Resorts is at the top of the list to operate a $101 million convention hotel in downtown Des Moines.
The Iowa Events Center Hotel Corp., a nonprofit organization overseeing the hotel project, voted Tuesday to start contract negotiations with Hilton.
If a deal is finalized, Hilton would run the hotel, which will connect to the Iowa Events Center.
Once finished, the hotel is expected to have 330 rooms and full-service amenities. It would be built on the southwest side of the Iowa Events Center.
An updated timeline for the hotel suggests the board expects to receive a term sheet from Hilton next month. Construction would start in February 2016 and the hotel would open in March 2018.
The board had also considered proposals from Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt.
The nonprofit board has already chosen Des Moines-based Weitz Co. as the project’s general contractor.
Officials from Des Moines, Polk County and local businesses have long pushed for the hotel, saying it’s needed to attract more events and tournaments to the city.
Earlier this year, the state’s economic development agency approved providing $36.4 million in incentives for the project. That award is contingent upon the selection of the hotel operator and completion of financing plans by Sept. 1.
In addition to the state award, financing would also come from a mortgage and investments from the EB-5 visa program, where foreign investors can earn U.S. residency for investing $500,000 into a real estate project.
Knapp Properties CEO Gerry Neugent leads the nonprofit board. It has six other members, two appointed by the city and four appointed by county supervisors.
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