Convention Center Plan in Williston - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Convention Center Plan in Williston

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A major real estate developer wants to spend more than 100 million dollars building a hotel, retail, and office complex in Williston.

But the company wants local or state funds to pitch in another 35 million dollars for a convention center that would be the heart of the complex.

An official with The Prime Group in Chicago was in Williston today, pitching the idea to city officials and community leaders.

Jim Olson reports on the proposal.

This is what John Breugelmans envisions for a new convention center complex on Williston's southwest side.

That's the convention center in the foreground, with the office building on the left and the 16-story, 300-room hotel on the right.

The facility would also include underground parking for 15-hundred vehicles along with retail space and a destination restaurant.

(John Breugelmans, The Prime Group) "The location of this project is at Sand Creek, the southeastern tip of Sand Creek overlooking downtown Williston and overlooking the valley."

Breugelmans is a principal with the Prime Group - a real estate development firm with projects around the world.

And he says Williston is losing business and tax income by not having a world class convention facility.

(John Breugelmans, The Prime Group) "The business is slowly walking away from Williston if we don't do something, not tonight, but the day after tomorrow we have to do something."

The Prime Group's proposal calls for an investment of around 110-115 million dollars by the Chicago firm, and about 30-35 million dollars from local and state sources.

(John Breugelmans, The Prime Group) "There is no other convention center in the country that has not been financed this way."

That's because the people who come to conventions spend money on food, lodging, transportation, and shopping - meaning tax collections for the local and state governments.

Breugelmans says decisions need to be made soon to have this new complex open within about two years.

(John Breugelmans, The Prime Group) "We have to stay ahead of the curve, it's very important because the development, the economic and demographic development of a city like Williston is going so fast that you cannot fall behind on what you have to provide for the business and for the people here."

Williston Mayor Howard Klug says he likes the idea and thinks the city needs to do something to attract conventions to the region. The mayor is expected to appoint a committee to look into the idea. In Williston, Jim Olson, KX news.


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