Lawton_The Lawton City Council approved further financing for the 2nd Street redevelopment project in a 6-2 vote. Doug Wells and Rosemary Bellino cast the dissenting votes.
Both said they supported the idea of the project, but were not comfortable with the financial commitment this proposal would place on the city. The vote came during a special session of the council, and followed more than two hours of discussion and debate.
The council approved a resolution that allows the Lawton Economic Development Authority to issue bonds for the financing of the project in the amount of no more than $37 million. That includes the roughly $12 million the city has already invested in the project by purchasing the land from private owners over the past several years. In addition, City Manager Larry Mitchell says the city is projecting an estimated $80 million in private investments in the project.
Before the vote, Mayor Fred Fitch made an impassioned plea to the council to keep the project alive so they could finally see the benefit of all the years of planning that have already been invested.
"It's a tremendous lift off my shoulders. I've been working on this for 6 years. The last six months it's been stressful and I am going to get a good night sleep tonight, but I'm going to start early again tomorrow morning," said Fitch.
Mayor Fitch says the future of Lawton is something all of us can really look forward to.
"The hotel/conference center will provide an asset that can be utilized. We don't have an asset of that nature that will draw the revenue into this community. We're going to be moving on and this expansion will create more expansion," said Fitch.
The city is planning a hotel and conference center, as well as a large retail development on Second Street. Both those developers had revealed more details on their plans for the project just last week.
Mayor Fitch told 7NEWS that the hotel developers plan to close on September 10th and the retailers at the beginning of November.
The next step for the city is to hire a project manager who will report the progress of the project to the council on a regular basis.