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Council Gives Preliminary Approval to Pass-Through Lease, May Lead to Conference Center Construction

Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio

A proposed 200-room hotel and state-of-the-art conference center complex may soon come to fruition on riverside Amoco Platte River Commons property west of the city’s downtown core.

On Tuesday, Casper City Council gave informal approval to a draft of a so-called pass-through lease agreement, where the city would spend just over $5 million to lease the land from the Amoco Reuse Agreement Joint Powers Board. The city then would, in turn, sublease that same property to a private developer.

“It’s not a gift, it’s not a donation, it’s a loan that will be paid back with an interest rate higher than what we’re currently getting on our portfolio,” city manager John Patterson said. “This is an investment in the future of Casper.”

The developer would then begin construction on an over $40 million Crowne Plaza-branded full-service hotel and spa that would feature a connected conference center – the conference center would be the largest in the state, Patterson said. The plans may also call for the construction of a civic auditorium.

“This is a game-changer,” Patterson said. “It will bring jobs, it will bring tax base, and it will bring economic prosperity to the city.”

Patterson said the city will pay down the JPB lease using money that was originally earmarked to construct a civic auditorium. In February, a roughly $2.6 million loan package was approved by the State Loan and Investment Board for infrastructure and land improvements on the property.

Ward I councilman Keith Goodenough was the lone dissenting vote. Ward II councilman Craig Hedquist was not in attendance for Tuesday’s work session.

During the meeting, Patterson said the project remains on track for completion by 2016. The agreement must also be approved by British Petroleum, which leases the former refinery land to the JPB.

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