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Union Park hotel backed

A small high-end hotel is being planned on the city’s Union Park, the latest project in the works for the vacant 61 acres the city owns west of downtown.

The City Council agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations with Palmer City-Core Union Park Hotel LLC on Wednesday.

Part of that development company is the Charlie Palmer Group, which is owned by the eponymous critically acclaimed chef.

Palmer has two restaurants in Las Vegas, one at Mandalay Bay and the other at the Four Seasons.

The development presented to the council would have two restaurants and 400 rooms, some of which would be condominiums.

It would not incorporate any gaming.

Mayor Oscar Goodman said this is a “huge project. It will breathe such energy in Union Park.”

Richard Femenella, chief financial officer for the Charlie Palmer Group, said the company has been working on this concept for 2 1/2 years.

“I believe in downtown. I’ve always believed in downtown,” he said.

Though still preliminary, he said the project will cost $100 million or more.

The 61 acres, bordered by Grand Central Parkway, Bonneville Avenue and the Union Pacific railroad tracks, has been hyped by Goodman for years.

The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, designed by Frank Gehry, is being built on the land.

A performing arts center is also planned for the site.

The city also has an agreement with a developer for a 60-story World Jewelry Center and is negotiating a land swap with a developer to build a hotel-casino on the land.

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