San Jose city officials have worked out a way to renovate the McEnery Convention Center without taking money from the Redevelopment Agency or the city itself. The renovation has been scaled back from $300 million to just $120 million, and the 14 percent hotel surcharge tax will be used as collateral for bonds issued to cover the cost. The bonds are expected to be released as early as late December.

Hotel managers welcome the decision, saying that they are losing business because of the sorry state of the Convention Center. “The center is just not contemporary,” says John Southwell, general manager of the San Jose Hilton and Crowne Plaza. “Clients walk in and say, ‘Noooooo.’” Robert Thomas, of the San Jose Marriott asks, “How do we compete against San Diego or Long Beach?”

The renovation project will be overseen by the city’s Public Works Department, rather than Team San Jose. According to Public Works Director Katie Allen, work should begin early next year and take two years to complete.
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