Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Commissioner Questions Hotel Developer's Backing; John McDonald of Las Vegas Proposed Building $14M Inn in Brunswick

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Commissioner Questions Hotel Developer's Backing; John McDonald of Las Vegas Proposed Building $14M Inn in Brunswick

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Morrison

BRUNSWICK | A city commissioner is questioning the qualifications of a Las Vegas-based developer who wants to build a $14 million hotel in the downtown area.

John McDonald of JWM Ventures told the commission in August that he had been working with the Wyndham Hotel Group on a proposal to construct a 125-room hotel on a tract of land called the Oglethorpe block. The tract currently is jointly held by the city and Glynn County, but the county will deed over its portion once construction begins on a facility that also includes a conference center.

"Have you seen the financial backing of this person that says he's capable of doing what he says he's going to do?" Johnny Cason asked during the commission's Wednesday meeting.

Cason's concern came after reports arose that the company had failed to complete some projects because of a lack of financing.

McDonald said in August that his company was prepared to move ahead with the project as soon as it got a nod from the city. He said he had been talking with the Wyndham group, the world's largest hotel chain. In addition to Wyndham, its brands include Days Inn, Howard Johnson's and Travelodge among others, but McDonald did not say what flag the proposed hotel would fly.

The city's Urban Redevelopment Agency issued a request for proposals for the property some time ago but McDonald did not respond. He was invited to take a look at the property by Mayor Cornell Harvey and his subsequent appearance at the August meeting was the cause of a mild controversy, which continues.

Cason reiterated a complaint that McDonald had skirted the original process and pointed out that a subsequent proposal McDonald submitted failed to establish his credentials.

And Commissioner Julie Martin said Tuesday that the Urban Development Agency intended to start the request for proposals process anew anyway since the county had at last assured the city it would relinquish its portion of the property. …

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