12StadiumThe City of Fayetteville has been dealt a setback on its plan to finance its $33 million minor league baseball stadium over 30 years. The North Carolina Local Government Commission told a city staff delegation in Raleigh that the city should limit its amortization schedule to 20 years. The commission is an agency of the State Treasurer’s office that approves cities’ and counties’ long-term debt service. “We were mildly surprised the staff was not amenable to it,” said City Manager Doug Hewett at a city council stadium committee meeting. Stadium Finance Chairman Kirk deViere said the upside of the commission’s decision is that the city will save more than $11 million in interest by retiring the debt in 20 years.  Adjustments to the financing plan should not be a problem, deViere added.

Stadium committee member Jim Arp emphasized the financial arrangements have no effect on the city’s 30-year agreement with the Houston Astros to provide the community with a minor league baseball team. That process is moving along at a pace envisioned by city council last fall.  Groundbreaking on the city center ballpark is scheduled to take place in July. That’s about the same time Prince Charles Holdings will begin renovations to the former Hay Street hotel. The Durham urban development firm has been negotiating a land swap deal with city council for many weeks. “We should have a deal by the end of the month,” said PCH Project Manager Jordan Jones. Committee Chairman Mitch Colvin isn’t as optimistic, saying that he can’t put an end date on the negotiations but believes it will be soon. 

The stadium and surrounding amenities will be built on a nine-acre triangular tract bordered by two sets of railroad tracks and Hay Street. The city owns much of the property and PCH, owners of the old hotel, owns the rest. The city can’t build the stadium without acquiring some of the PCH property. And PCH wants some of what the city owns to construct a four-story, 350-car parking deck with a four-story hotel on top of it. PCH expects to invest $23 million to refurbish the eight-story hotel into 62 apartments and a luxury penthouse and build the parking deck and hotel, subject to ongoing negotiations. Details of the land swap and possible shared cost of those projects have been discussed for weeks by the council stadium committee behind closed doors. 

Hewett points out that coming to a final agreement on the master development plan, a separate contract with the city’s stadium construction manager, Barton Malow, must be completed before the project can proceed. He will ask the full council
to consider voting on the contracts at its last meeting of
this month.                                         

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