The hottest item on the agenda at the Mineral Wells City Council meeting last week was the discussion of community support for the upcoming Baker Hotel restoration. The standing-room-only crowd listened as the team of Chad Patton, with Merrill Lynch; Laird Fairchild, a Southlake businessman; Jeff Trigger, president of Austin-based La Corsha Hospitality; Mark Rawlings, vice president of HHCC, an Austin-based general contractor; and the team of architects from Thiel & Thiel Architecture & Design, including Trish Hammond, Elyssa Burksdale, and Paige Byrd; presented the blueprints and discussed plans for the renovation. "Right now we are working to get $4 million together, that is the missing piece of the puzzle," stated City Manager Lance Howerton. "Next Tuesday, there will be a proposition put on the ballot to reallocate one-eighth cent of the city's current sales tax of one and one-half cents," stated Howerton. "The reallocation would allow that percentage of the existing sales tax to provide the funds for the 4b Economic Development Fund; which will allow a revenue stream for the needed funds to pay off bonds, if they are issued. The council would like to put the proposition on the ballot before the end of the month, and it will go up for approval next Tuesday. There is much negotiation to be done," stated Howerton. "But, this project is said to have the ability to generate about $10 million in sales tax revenue, and it is something that this city has looked forward to for a very long time.

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Along with the support of this community, I believe that we finally have the right team working together to get the job done." "It is not going to be 'just' a hotel, it is going to be a multiple business venture with meeting rooms; and plenty of room for event businesses, like weddings, proms and other special events," said Trigger. "Envision that there will be a place to pick up sundries and gifts, a place to get your nails done or a day at the spa; a gymnasium on the 10th floor; a coffee shop and maybe even a lounge - it will be great to have a safe place to socialize." Clarence Holliman, former mayor, suggested that maybe some of the rooms be used for assisted-living clients. Laird responded that there is no steel frame in the hotel's structure, so the State of Texas cannot allow it to be used for that purpose. "The historical preservation of the Baker Hotel is of the utmost importance to this project. Certain standards must be met in the restoration project to be able to qualify for tax credits," said Laird. "How confident are you in the price of the restoration?" Ward 1 Councilman Thomas Lively from asked. Rawlings said that he was very confident, and that he has a 78-page budget proposal with all the details listed. "The total cost has a $56.2 million price tag and will take up to three years to complete," said Laird. Tuesday, the Mineral Wells City Council did approve placing the proposed tax proposition on the May ballot Councilwoman Tammy Underwood announced Tuesday evening at the county Republican Party meeting at Holiday Hills Country Club.