McKinney's Gateway Hotel and Conference Center project is moving forward.
The City Council approved a development plan for the site, which has stood partially completed and abandoned since 2008, by a 5-2 vote Tuesday night.
"It seems like they want to get rid of the eyesore coming into McKinney, but this is a pretty expensive way to do it," said Charles Helm, owner of the McKinney Holiday Inn.
Helm said he is concerned about the project's $35 million price tag -- specifically, the $18 million to $22 million taxpayer contribution.
"Twenty million dollars is tax money that could be used for promoting industry, bringing in businesses," he said. "What kind of message are we sending to everyone that wants to come to McKinney? I'll come to McKinney if you pay for half my building?"
However, city manager Jason Gray said it is common for a city to build and own its own conference or convention center, citing Dallas as an example.
"We're clearly not trying to get into the hotel business," he said. "We're simply providing an incentive as part of a public-private partnership."
Gray said the more-than 180 room hotel and 20,000 square feet of conference space gives plenty of opportunity to pay back the investment, specifically in tax revenue, leases and the city's plan to eventually sell the hotel space once it becomes a viable business.
"I think it can pay for itself," he said. "This is a deal that is moving forward."
Construction may begin as early as June 2013, with an estimated completion date of December 2014.