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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

$150M convention center proposed for Williston

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News,Business,North Dakota,Budgets and Deficits

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — A Chicago-based real estate developer wants to build a $150 million convention center complex in Williston using public money.

The proposal by The Prime Group is to spend about $115 million on a hotel, retail and office development, with local or state funds paying for a $35 million convention center at the heart of the complex, KXMC-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1rRSfZ2 ).

The hub of the booming western North Dakota oil patch is losing business and tax income by not having a world-class convention facility, Prime Group principle John Breugelmans said.

"We have to stay ahead of the curve," he told city officials and community leaders on Monday. "It's very important because the development — the economic and demographic development of a city like Williston — is going so fast that you cannot fall behind on what you have to provide for the business and for the people here."

Williston's population has doubled in size since 2010, to an estimated 30,000 people.

The proposed complex, which would need city approval, would be built on a site overlooking Williston's downtown. It would have an office building on the left, a 16-story, 300-room hotel on the right, and the convention center in the foreground in between. It would have underground parking for 1,500 vehicles, retail space and a restaurant.

Breugelmans wants to have the complex open within two years.

"The business is slowly walking away from Williston if we don't do something," he said.

Mayor Howard Klug said he thinks the city needs to do something to attract conventions and that he likes the convention center proposal. He is expected to appoint a committee to study the idea.

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Information from: KXMC-TV, http://www.kxnet.com

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