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Dallas Voters Approve Proposition To Fund Redo Of Convention Center, Fair Park Renovations

Visitors to Dallas will foot the bill for upgrades at the Convention Center and Fair Park after voters approved a ballot measure raising the hotel occupancy tax rate from 13% to 15%.

The proposition won 67.68% of the vote as of 6:50 a.m. CT Nov. 9, with 459 of 462 polling centers reporting results.

The tax rate increase is expected to translate to $1.5B in funding for both projects, which includes $1.2B for the demolition and rebuild of the convention center and $300M for upgrades to six buildings at Fair Park. 

Buildings at Fair Park will also benefit from the funding.

Dallas City Council voted in April to include the proposition on the November ballot. The move was made possible through The Brimer Bill, a Texas law that allows cities to use HOT funds to repay bonds used to build sports arenas and convention centers. The bill was amended during last year’s legislative session to include municipal park projects, rendering Fair Park eligible for the funds, according to Axios.

“We believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our city’s convention center and business,” Carolyn Dent, chair of the Hotel Association of North Texas and managing director of Omni Dallas hotel, said prior to the council vote. “We can be bigger and better than where we are today.”

The convention center project, which was touted by stakeholders as a way to position Dallas as a more competitive destination for business travel, is also expected to open up around 50 acres of development potential for the private sector. The vision is to create an entertainment district that will include restaurants, bars, music venues, activated green space, hotels and more. 

Plans also feature a deck park that will cover the Interstate 30 canyon and connect downtown to the Cedars, sparking reinvestment opportunities in Southern Dallas.

“If we get it right, this is going to be the start of a brand-new neighborhood that may redefine what we think of as Dallas,” Visit Dallas President and CEO Craig Davis said at an Aug. 23 Bisnow event. “You won’t know you’re in Southern Dallas and you won’t know you’re downtown because it’s all going to be one. This will psychologically change everything.”

Approval of the proposition also sets into motion the single largest capital investment made at Fair Park to date, including renovations of the Music Hall, the Band Shell, the Cotton Bowl, the Coliseum, and the Automobile and Centennial Exhibit Halls. 

“The DDI team has been working with our partners at City Hall on the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center master plan for years,” Downtown Dallas Inc. President and CEO Jennifer Scripps said in a statement Wednesday. “We are excited to continue the important work of designing and building a new walkable, vibrant, mixed-use entertainment district that will create thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in economic development, as well as attract new visitors and residents for decades to come.”

All results are considered unofficial until canvassed.