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Downtown Hilton Delayed to December 

Delayed to December

The much-anticipated Miller & Rhoads hotel is still on hold, but the project's developers expect to secure construction financing by Nov. 30.

At a cost now topping $100 million, construction on the former downtown department store was expected to begin in late September.

Rising construction prices, however, and "some trepidation" in the housing market have forced the timetable back a little, says Hal Fairbanks, director of site acquisition for New Orleans-based HRI Properties, the lead developer on the project.

"We're nailing down all the brass tacks right now," Fairbanks says. "We still have a few things to work out."

HRI, along with ECI Development Services in Richmond, is planning to build an upscale Hilton hotel in the former Miller & Rhoads, with condominiums on the top floors. The project has been delayed several times during the past two years because of difficulties with financing. But in April the city held a press conference with the developers announcing the project was finally a go.

Not just yet. Fairbanks says it's taken longer because the deal involves several layers of state and federal tax credits, including what are called Fair Market tax credits available through the U.S. Treasury. All told, the tax credits make up about 40 percent of the project's $100 million price tag, Fairbanks says.

Construction on the hotel — it's still a full-service upscale Hilton, he says, but wouldn't name the specific subbrand — should begin in December.

"It's always a challenge on these historic rehab projects," Fairbanks says. S

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