April 5, 2012
Parkways officials not giving up hope on Tamarack deal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Parkways Authority officials aren't giving up hope on developing property around Tamarack -- even after two separate requests for proposals to build a hotel at the complex yielded no takers.

"I don't want to give up on it. That's just a valuable piece of property," Parkways General Manager Greg Barr said of the 87 acres next to the state arts and crafts showplace at Beckley.

Last month, Parkways sent out solicitations to 17 developers, both in-state and out-of-state, to submit proposals for constructing a 120-room hotel adjacent to the Tamarack conference center. The deadline to submit proposals was 4 p.m. last Friday.

"We didn't receive any," Barr told the authority at its meeting Thursday.

Barr said there were several factors that he believes discouraged bidding, including the current financial climate, with banks reluctant to make loans to developers for hotels or other hospitality industry projects.

He said Beckley also is still considered a third-tier market for tourism, despite the soon-to-open Bechtel Summit National Scout Reserve in nearby Fayette County, expected to draw tens of thousands of Boy Scouts and their families to the area each year.

"People are not quite getting what's going on in Beckley and what the future may hold," Barr said.

Also, several would-be developers were reluctant to deal with a government agency, over concerns that proprietary business information would end up being made public, he said.

"Some are adverse to divulging any of their information," Barr told the authority.

Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox suggested that the authority may want to work with the state Development Authority on a plan for the property. Under state law, the Development Office can provide a higher level of confidentiality with developers than Parkways or other state agencies.

Although the authority would prefer to lease the property, Barr said it would also consider selling it outright, if the ideal offer warranted.

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