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Goal: ‘Magnificent Hotel and Conference Center’: URA, Developer Continue to Work on Resolution of Deal for Downtown Facility

June 27, 2008

By Jessica Legge, The Times West Virginian, Fairmont

Jun. 27–FAIRMONT — Fairmont’s urban renewal authority and the Red Shield are continuing to work on a resolution for the downtown hotel and conference center contract.

The Fairmont Renaissance Authority met with Red Shield president and “Rocket Boy” Roy Lee Cooke during a special meeting Thursday. The parties went into executive session to discuss the project.

“It was good conversation, and we’re working toward amicably continuing on that conversation,” Gerry Schmidt, chairman of the URA, said. “It’s all about getting the initial hotel and convention center agreement finalized so we can begin work on that.”

The URA and the Red Shield Inc., a development firm based out of Columbia, S.C., signed an agreement in March 2007 that established the Red Shield as the master developer for several upcoming construction projects in the downtown area.

In September, the proposed hotel and conference center — to be located on the corner of Madison Street and Ogden Avenue — was set as the kick-off project of the downtown revitalization plan.

The master developer agreement was recently amended to focus solely on the hotel project. The other projects will no longer be part of the agreement, but will be broken into smaller projects instead.

“I have presented them with a new individual project agreement for the hotel and conference center, and I told them that I really, really want to build a hotel and conference center in Fairmont,” Cooke said.

The URA will now review the proposal and report back to Cooke in the coming weeks, he said. He hopes to have the agreement finalized soon so the process can begin and so Fairmont can have “a magnificent hotel and conference center.”

“I just want to get on with it,” Cooke said. “It just takes an enormous amount of time. Jay (Rogers, city planner) and Gerry and the rest of the people on the URA, they’re all good friends of mine. I don’t think there’s any hidden agendas on their part — there’s certainly not on mine.”

Schmidt said the URA has no timeline for getting the agreement finalized except “as quick as possible.”

“We’re always trying to get it done as soon as we can,” he said. “We’re working toward it in as timely of a fashion as we can.”

E-mail Jessica Legge at jlegge@timeswv.com.

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