YOUNGSTOWN City gets 4 proposals for arena

Proposals include an arena, convention center space and hotels and restaurants.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The city expects to sort through four proposals this fall and pick a developer by Jan. 1 to make a downtown civic center project a reality.
Best case scenario? Construction would start in spring 2003, Mayor George M. McKelvey said today.
The city received four proposals by Monday's 4 p.m. deadline to develop the area between the Market Street and South Avenue bridges. The types of projects range from an arena only to an arena, hotel, convention center and river walk.
A fifth company sent a letter noting its interest in designing and engineering any project.
Who submitted proposals
Three large, national companies making proposals were:
*Landmark Organization, Austin, Texas.
U Waterford Group, Waterford, Conn.
U Gould Evans Associates, Tampa, Fla.
Each included elements such as a 6,500- to 8,500-seat arena with hockey and indoor football, convention center space and hotels to be built now or in the future, and restaurants and entertainment spots, said city Finance Director David Bozanich.
Another proposal for an arena only came from MG Financial Services of Carmel, Ind.
The proposals seem to meet the general idea the city has for a civic center project. McKelvey called the number of proposals "quite substantial."
He stressed that much review and negotiation will be done before the city picks a developer.
"These proposals are a starting point, not an ending point," McKelvey said. "There are many challenges ahead of us."
The city will review the proposals with its consultant, Compass Facility Management, and hear presentations. Finalists will be ranked and negotiations will start with the top pick.
Main criteria include financial capability, experience in successful projects, compliance with federal regulations and total amount of private investment.
A memo of understanding will be signed for a period of time while the chosen developer conducts a feasibility analysis, makes architectural plans and puts financing in place.
A binding development contract will be negotiated after the memo expires.
The city has a $26.8 million federal grant for the project. The mix of public and private dollars will be central to the city's decision, McKelvey said.
The city has made it clear it will not provide any money for operation or maintenance. The city will, however, consider enacting a ticket tax to supplement revenue for the developer, officials have said.
Government permission
The federal government will have to agree to the city's plans before any contract is final, he said. The government told the city recently that it agrees the site between the bridges has no significant environmental problems, said Jeffrey L. Chagnot, city development director.
Construction time for the project is estimated at between 18 months and two years.
Today's unveiling of proposals was delayed five weeks, from early August, after potential bidders asked for and were granted the extension in July.

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