Just out from Tommy Wells's office:
"(Washington, DC) - Councilmember Tommy Wells issued a statement today regarding the recent reports of the District's interest in delaying committed community development dollars to publicly fund a downtown Convention Center hotel.
Stated Councilmember Wells, "I am asking the Chief Financial Officer and my Council colleagues to cease discussion about the possibility of delaying the TIF and PILOT funds promised to the Southwest and Capitol Riverfront communities and incorrectly stating the projects are not on track. It is unwise for the City to even suggest going back on its commitment at the exact moment the project is moving forward to attract private financing. If attempted, it would create uncertainty and jeopardize the jobs, affordable housing, retail amenities and public investment that have been promised to our residents."
"The District has just finished the Land Disposition Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding between all lease holders, allowing the Southwest development team to move ahead with the amenity based project," added Wells.
Wells concluded, "Diverting funding away from the Southwest and Southeast neighborhoods at this time in favor of a fully government funded mega hotel breaks the promise we made to our residents that we are ready to move forward."
UPDATE: From the comments, one commenter says another commenter received an e-mail from Jack Evans, saying the following:
"The Council is not considering eliminating subsidies to neighborhood development projects the Council has previously approved. Projects such as O Street Market, which of course is of paramount importance, and projects in other wards will continue to move forward. Frankly, the biggest impediment to moving forward on some of these projects is not the public financing aspect but the ability to raise private equity--which as you can well imagine can be quite difficult these days.
"The Council, Mayor, and CFO, however are examining the actual debt service needs of each project on a fiscal year by year basis. In general, we tend to over-reserve debt authority on these projects. If we re-align these authorizations with what the projects are likely to require in actual debt service in FY 10 - 13, then it becomes more plausible to finance the new convention center hotel publicly while staying under the 12% debt cap. After FY 13 it is likely District revenues will continue to grow as the economy strengthens and the overall debt cap becomes less and less of an issue. So at this point all we are doing is exploring whether we can finance the hotel while continuing to move projects forward by better managing our debt.
"The Committee on Finance and Revenue, which I Chair, is holding a joint public hearing on the financing for the new Convention Center hotel next Wednesday, June 24th at 11 am and I invite everyone to testify. I think it is especially important for folks to come and emphasize how important it is to build the hotel and move forward so it is open by January 2013 when we have our first bookings in the hotel. I remain open minded as to how we finance the project, but our timeframes are fairly short here and we'll have to take final actions and move forward in the next few months. "