Thursday, November 12, 2009

State approves convention center tourism zone

By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • November 12, 2009 A special sales-tax collection area that's critical to financing a proposed Nashville convention center was approved by a state panel today. The State Building Commission unanimously approved the tourism development zone after Mayor Karl Dean's administration adjusted the boundaries in response to state officials' concerns. The project would get the annual growth in sales tax dollars generated within the zone as long as it outpaced the county's overall sales tax growth rate. Sales tax rates on items purchased within the zone would not change. Dean's administration brought some of the zone's boundaries closer to the convention center site south of Broadway after State Comptroller Justin Wilson, in particular, questioned whether some businesses would truly benefit from the center's development. But the administration also moved the western boundary further out West End Avenue to Interstate 440 so it could collect more money from hotels that would house conventioneers. Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said the adjusted zone should generate more annual revenue than the earlier boundaries would have produced. Revenue projections for the initial proposal topped out at $7.85 million a year, though officials said that was a conservative estimate. "This is a very important piece of the puzzle," Riebeling said after the meeting. Contact Michael Cass at 259-8838 or

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