The groundbreaking for the downtown convention center took place on Monday, December 3 at the riverfront portion of the site next to the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce offices. Mayor Bill Saffo and Dale Smith, chair of the Mayor’s Convention Center Task Force, both spoke at the ceremony. Over 100 people were in attendance.
City Council approved $56.8 million in funding for construction of the downtown convention center at their November 20 meeting. They also awarded more than $6 million in contracts to begin phase I of construction, including foundation work on the site and materials for the adjacent parking deck.
A financial model has been presented to the City Council that demonstrated the viability of the project even without an adjacent hotel; however, discussions for a hotel on the site are continuing. City officials hope to have an agreement secured on a hotel before construction of the convention center is completed.
The project is funded by the 3% hotel room tax designated for the convention center. The convention center will be constructed and operated with funds from the hotel tax.