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‘Symbiotic Relationship’

Public hearing to occur on downtown hotel proposal

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Warren City Council is expected to stop further efforts to develop a hotel on the riverfront at a meeting next week.

Warren City Council will be holding a public meeting on the proposal for a downtown hotel.

“We have promised a public meeting,” Mayor Maurice Cashman said during Monday’s special meeting. We will do that. You have my promise.”

Cashman emphasized the meeting would take place prior to council taking action on the project.

The hotel has been proposed for the base of Liberty St., potentially at the cost of Breeze Point Landing as a public park.

It’s drawn significant opposition in recent months, including a rally held downtown last year.

So when will the meeting take place?

“We’re hoping sometime in the beginning of February,” City Manager Nancy Freenock said. “(It has) taken over three years to get to this point where we think we have a buildable lot.”

She acknowledged the process has been “slow going.

“We’re hoping that everybody down there will work together” in a “symbiotic relationship,” Freenock continued, indicating it is her belief that the individuals and businesses in that area can work together.

She said the developer is “willing to come up and meet with the public” and said the city would be providing the Times Observer with a proposed site map that “will give the public an idea of what we’re looking at.”

Freenock told the Times Observer after the meeting that the city has “several proposed site plans, dependent upon the grant for which we are applying.”

She cautioned the plans “are always presented as conceptual” since none of the projects have been approved.

Piper VanOrd, owner of Allegheny Outfitters, told council that staff came to her and indicated that the hotel project was off the table.

Freenock responded by saying she doesn’t “think that was an accurate statement…. We’re doing everything we can to bring investment to the riverfront.”

“And we plan in alternatives,” she told the Times Observer. “I would have said it was in suspense as at that point in time, the City was unaware that the storm water management problem had been addressed.”

Fundamentally, the decision about what happens on the riverfront will require a decision by Warren City Council.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Freenock said during the meeting. “(We) need council to make a decision. (We) need to put the puzzle pieces together. That’s just how it is when working in a development.”

Council approved an application for a riverfront dock last month. Discussions about a hotel impact — but do not thwart — that proposal. The dock would move east if the hotel moves ahead and would remain at the base of Liberty St. if it does not.

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