Christine Lee, Irving Reporter
The back and forth between the city and the Las Colinas Group over the entertainment center project in Irving continues. The private group helping fund the project held a news conference today appealing to the public, but the mayor says without the funds needed, the project isn't going anywhere.
The developer of a $250 million Irving entertainment complex touted a study showing the economic benefits of the project, but the Irving mayor dismissed the findings as marketing hype.
Las Colinas Group spokesman David Margulies said a study by two economists found the project would generate $400 million of economic activity in the short run. The center would also create more than 2,700 jobs, increase tax revenues and reverse a decline in property values, according to the study.
The study was conducted by Bernard Weinstein, an adjunct professor of business economics at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, and Terry L. Clower, director of the Center of Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas.
But Mayor Beth Van Duyne dismissed the study, saying it was yet more marketing hype to distract everyone from how the Las Colinas Group was not holding up its end of the bargain. Van Duyne said the developer was coming up with distractions instead of the $80 million in funding it needs to contribute to the project.
"There's been no new information provided today," she said. "This is the same spin. This is the same spin we continue to hear."
Margulies said he presented the study at a news conference on Monday to educate everyone that the project was beneficial to all of Irving.
"It's not a theater and restaurants; it's the basis for improving tax revenues in the entire city of Irving," he said.
Margulies also said multiple investors were interested in the project but were not signing documents because the city was still waiting to get its bond rating.
But Van Duyne said the developer agreed from the beginning to secure the $80 million before the city got its bond rating.
"The fact is that the investors aren't lining up, so they're now trying to sell it to the public," she said. "Abide by the contract, bring your money to the table, and let's get this thing built."
Van Duyne also has been at odds with the majority of the City Council over the project. She was outvoted when the city decided to get its bond rating even though the Las Colinas Group had not secured its funding. The council also outvoted the mayor and gave the group until early August to secure the $80 million.