Hotel Owner Criticizes McKinney Conference Center Project

Business owner takes issue with city funding for project

A hotel owner says McKinney's proposed hotel-conference center project would create unfair competition.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved a letter of intent to move forward with the McKinney Gateway Hotel and Conference Center, which has been stalled and involved in bankruptcy litigation for years.

Mayor Brian Loughmiller said then that he would like to see work resume by the end of the year.

"This is a missing piece that we need to fulfill," he said. "We have a structure out there that's unfinished, which is, quite frankly, an eyesore."

But the project is attracting opposition.

"There are problems here, and you may be creating more problems," said Charles Helm, owner of the Holiday Inn and Suites in McKinney.

Helm, who aired his concerns at Tuesday's City Council meeting, said he takes issue with how the city is funding part of the project. It is unfair to other, similar businesses that don't operate with those funds, he said.

"I don't feel like we should be using the McKinney taxpayers' money," he said. "We're not scared of the competition. All we want to do is compete on a level playing field."

Loughmiller earlier told NBC 5 that the hotel would provide a strong return on the city's investment.

The mayor has said that the project site between U.S. 75 and State Highway 121 would be a prime piece of real estate for future development.

But Helm, citing several feasibility studies, said the city should bring in other development, along the model of the Allen Event Center area, instead of starting with a hotel.

"This location is not the best location that they’re using right now, because there's nothing there to support it," he said.

The Gateway project also has stalled in gaining support from the McKinney Community Development Corp., a partner in the project. The group did not immediately approve the letter of intent to move forward.

The City Council is likely to look at the Gateway project again next week.

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