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Modesto’s planned high-end hotel passes hurdle. What’s next for the proposed project?

A proposal for a high-end hotel in downtown Modesto has passed its first public tryout after a City Council committee last week accepted a consultant’s study and forwarded it to the full council.

Modesto hired Chicago-based HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Consulting to conduct the study at a cost of $49,300. HVS managing director Thomas Hazinski presented the study’s main findings at the council’s Economic Development Committee.

“It looks like there is a feasible project,” he said, “provided that parking can be solved and provided ... that (the) project or some other forms of public investment could make improvements to the plaza center (Modesto Centre Plaza). So it’s really good news. You’ve got a feasible project that could really improve the overall visitor infrastructure in downtown.”

The proposal calls for a 200-room hotel to be built in Modesto Centre Plaza’s parking lot, which is bounded by 11th, K and L streets. The hotel would complement the 258-room DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, which is connected to Centre Plaza.

The study says the project could work provided Modesto Centre Plaza, which has served as the city’s convention-community center for three decades, is upgraded and more parking, such as a parking garage, is provided.

The study says an upgraded Centre Plaza would be needed to draw more conventions and conferences and generate more room nights at the DoubleTree and new hotel.

The City Council is expected to hear from the consultant and city officials about the study in May. But the council could face tough decisions if it eventually decides to pursue the project (that decision would not be made in May), including in what ways the city would contribute to the project.

If the council decides to pursue the project, then Modesto would use a competitive process to select a developer.

The Economic Development Committee voted 3-0 to accept the study and forward it to the council, though committee member and Councilman Doug Ridenour, while expressing interest, raised reservations, including that he wanted the entire council to be fully informed about the proposal.

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