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Convention Center hotel quarrel fades

There's no longer any quarrel over which hotel company will get the chance to transform the dream of a Tampa Convention Center hotel into reality.

On Wednesday, an attorney for the group that wanted to build a rival Hilton hotel near the proposed Marriott site said his company is dropping its plans to compete with the Marriott deal.

The attorney, J. Stephen Gardner, had said that a Marriott executive intimidated a contractor to back out of the proposed Hilton project. Gardner had hinted at a lawsuit, which could have delayed or scuttled Marriott's plans to build a 708-room convention center hotel on the Garrison Channel near the Ice Palace.

"But we decided that we want to help the city, not hinder it," said Gardner, who is a partner in the real estate company that owns the rival site. "Marriott has done a lot of work on this project. It looks like their deal will go forward."

Today the City Council is scheduled to address the hotel's zoning and the development agreements with Marriott.

Eager to end the 10-year battle to build a convention hotel, the city has proposed to give Marriott $31.9-million in lease payments during the next 19 years for space in and around the hotel.

_ JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

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