A private-public partnership to fund and build the proposed $390 million Albany Convention Center is in the works, but officials said today a final decision on the future of the project must be made by Christmas.
“We are taking a look at how to redo the project. We have to be innovative,” said Gavin Donohue, acting chairman of the Albany Convention Center Authority board.
The board met in an executive session for 45 minutes at its monthly meeting this morning to discuss several contracts, but Donohue said the board made no decisions.
Donohue, who was appointed chairman in July, after George Leveille stepped down, said Gov. David Paterson’s office remains neutral on the convention center but “open to suggestions” about a public-private partnership.
He said it’s too early to identify who the private partners may be or whether they would build the 400-room hotel that is part of the project.
The authority is awaiting approval of an additional $190 million in state funding, a financial commitment officials call necessary for the project to move forward. The board is waiting for a report on the economic feasibility of the project, ordered by Paterson, before the added state funds is allocated.
Donohue said the Wall Street financial crisis has created a “very challenging time,” but building a convention center would help jump start the local economy and create jobs in the Capital Region.
“We have been in a state of limbo. The governor came in at a tumultuous time and has issues he has to deal with. We are waiting and giving deference to the state,” said Donohue.
The proposed center would be built on Hudson Avenue between Liberty and Pearl streets. It would include a parking garage, as well as the planned hotel.
So far, the authority has spent $1.2 million on the project.