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Miller & Rhoads Hotel Delayed 

The hotel, deemed critical to the success of the Greater Richmond Convention Center and one of the key reasons why city officials lured ECI Development to Richmond to oversee more than $67 million in streetscape and utility improvements along Broad Street, had been slated to open in late 2006.

The renovation project will cost about $70 million, Laing says, and take two years to complete. He says the earliest the hotel could open now is January 2007.

Hotel financing, one of the toughest real estate loans to secure, often involves multiple banks and lenders who assume and spread out the debt. Most convention hotels are publicly financed, at least in part. But ECI Development, a company of Chicago developer Gary Beller, has vowed to complete the Miller & Rhoads renovation without asking for city money.

There are many pieces of the project that depend on securing the loan, such as historic tax credits and the hotel franchise (Laing says there's an agreement with Hilton), but those agreements depend on first securing the loan.

"They all kind of leverage off of each other," Laing says. "We continue to make progress every day." — Scott Bass



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