ERIN DUGGAN Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B4

Date: Friday, April 19, 2002

Eight months after the city set its sights on a downtown convention center and hotel, officials hope to make a decision by midsummer on three building proposals and five financing options, Community Development and Planning Commissioner George Leveille said Thursday. The sites under consideration are the former Wellington Hotel on State Street and the area near the Greyhound bus station near Broadway, and the five underwriting submissions came from ``huge, Wall Street-type companies,'' he said. He would not disclose details.

``It's a very specific and unique type of project, and there are probably less than 10 (financial) companies in the country that take part in these types of projects,'' he said.

Estimates for project run between $140 million to $160 million, Leveille said. Mayor Jerry Jennings said he hopes that most if not all of the project will be privately funded.

``We just don't have economic development money to that extent,'' he said.

But the proposals are ``very strong,'' he said. ``I look forward to making this happen.'' A report prepared by a Georgia consulting company and released in December confirmed that the city can support such a development.

During the recent NCAA wrestling tournament, Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau President Michele Vennard said other events that could draw similar-sized crowds remain out of reach.

Jennings said the proposal leaves confident the convention center can become a reality.