Roseville officials travel to South Africa for hotel/conference center meetings

Representatives meet with potential investor in project
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Four officials with the city of Roseville returned from a recent trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, feeling positive about the likelihood of securing an investor in a hotel conference center, according to Vice Mayor Carol Garcia, who participated in the trip.

“We came out of there feeling really good, that we were all on the same page with the success of this hotel conference center and the economic development that it’s going to be bringing into our region,” Garcia said at the March 5 Roseville City Council meeting. Mayor Susan Rohan was absent from the meeting.

Rohan also went on the trip and extended her time in South Africa for a personal vacation, at her own expense, according to the city.

Garcia, Rohan, City Manager Ray Kerridge and Development and Operations Manager Mike Isom met with Iqbal Sharma of ISSAR Investment Holdings and its client, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, to establish expectations with next steps, schedule, financing structure and ownership options.

Garcia said both parties are still collecting data and expect to have a deal finalized within the next several months.

The public-private hotel conference center project will cost an estimated $70 million. So far, the project has only been publicly funded, with the city spending $3 million to date on the design, environmental review, entitlements and property acquisition of land near Westfield Galleria for the facility.

The city has also advanced the capital needed to keep the project moving forward, and spent $32,000 to send the four representatives to South Africa in late-February, which Garcia said was worth the expense. The city has obtained a letter of intent from the investor group.

While in South Africa, city officials toured some of the assets funded or wholly owned by the investor group, including in industry, hospitality, infrastructure and a convention center.

Over the next several months, staff and the consultant team will be working to get the investors the data they need to execute the deal.

“The investors are looking at the numbers as closely as our city has been crunching these numbers and really honing in to make sure the hotel conference center is something that is really going to be viable in our region,” Garcia said.

Efforts to bring a full-service hotel conference center to Roseville have been long, beginning in the early 1990s, and full of setbacks. But the city decided to try again in earnest in January 2011 when it launched preliminary feasibility studies on the project.