JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin has responded to a letter from the Strong-Turner Alumni Chapter of A-State about a proposed convention center on the campus of Arkansas State University.
According to Talk Business, the letter from on-campus liaison Peggy Wright said the group believes the area could support the two convention center projects that are under consideration for the City of Jonesboro.
Officials with both O'Reilly Hospitality Management and Keller Enterprises announced plans earlier this year to build convention centers in Jonesboro.
The proposal from O'Reilly Hospitality Management would develop an Embassy Suites hotel with approximately 200 rooms, a conference center and a Houlihan's restaurant at the former A-State track complex just off of Highway 49.
The project from Keller Enterprises would include a 35,000 to 40,000 square foot convention center in addition to the 150-room hotel at the site of the former Arkansas Services Center just off Highway 63.
The Alumni group asked Perrin and the Jonesboro City Council to do three things in their letter:
Wright went on to say the project is not only significant for the future growth of North Jonesboro but also a "cleansing experience for those of us who can recall the 1970s and the destitute living conditions confronting African Americans and low-income families in North Jonesboro and along Mathews Avenue and its side streets near downtown."
Perrin responded to Wright in a letter written Dec. 31.
He began by pointing out that his administration has strongly supported the North Jonesboro Neighborhood Initiative and will continue to do so.
He also stated that the initiative was formed with a mission to engage residents of the district in their community, not specifically aimed at economic development.
Perrin wrote the following in response to the group's three requests outlined in the letter:
Perrin went on to say that the same day that representatives with Mr. O'Reilly and A-State were meeting with him to ask for additional funding from the city, he found out Mr. Keller had the financing he needed.
"I didn't choose one project over another; the free market did in that Mr. Keller was the first to obtain a signed land contract," the letter stated.
He closed the letter by saying that deciding which proposal has a better chance of succeeding financially, or whether both could, is not something the city government can or should do.
He also thanked Wright for her interest and for the work she has done for the residents of North Jonesboro.
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