Council member Chris Taylor, in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot last Friday after he learned Capstone’s presentation was scrapped, raised questions about what role the commission members may have played in the decision.

Mayor Bobby Dyer took responsibility for canning a briefing on a proposed convention center hotel project Tuesday, saying he acted “judicially” and didn’t want to “poison the well” by not giving the developer a pathway to success.

But some council members were critical of the decision, saying it could set a precedent and doesn’t bode well for a city that claims it’s “open for business.”

Norm Jenkins of Capstone Development was scheduled to present his development proposal at Tuesday’s council meeting, but the city scrapped it at the last minute Friday.

Jenkins’ firm was the only respondent to a city request for ideas to bring more workforce housing and parking to the convention and sports center area on 19th Street at the Oceanfront.

His proposal includes a convention center hotel and apartments.

But within the last week, members of the Resort Advisory Commission, which makes recommendations to the City Council, expressed concerns about the proposal and a desire for a broad study of the 19th Street corridor, where Atlantic Park is under construction.

Council member Chris Taylor, in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot last Friday after he learned Capstone’s presentation was scrapped, raised questions about what role the commission members may have played in the decision.

The mayor addressed the issue at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, saying that he makes agenda decisions.

“The timing may not have been optimal to give Mr. Jenkins a true and fair shot at what’s going on,” Dyer said. “We have a couple of factors to take into consideration.”

He cited the council being in the middle of the budget process, the recent closing of the deal for Atlantic Park and the need for a supermajority of council members — or nine of 11 members — to move a project like Capstone Development’s forward.

“We want to make sure to give Mr. Jenkins a fair shot,” Dyer said.

Any forward momentum on the project now appears to be on hold.

Dyer said a master plan is needed for the 19th Street corridor, and that it should address immediate parking challenges given that Atlantic Park construction is underway on the public surface lots. He also said a request for ideas from developers may be reissued after the master plan is completed.

He went on to say that during his tenure on council “a number of ideas have come in and never saw the light of day.”

Dyer decided to postpone Jenkins’ presentation because he likes it, but doesn’t know if it has enough support yet, he said.

“If three people don’t like this idea for any reason, due to any type of external pressure they may be under, that kills the deal before it begins,” he said.

The City Council was briefed on the Capstone proposal last summer in a closed meeting, but it has not yet been discussed in a public council meeting. Collecting public input was considered the next step, according to a presentation on the proposal, which was provided to The Virginian-Pilot last August.

Pulling the presentation was not a good look for the city, said Taylor, the council member who represents District 8.

“The message that we could be sending to individuals that aren’t stakeholders here locally is that we’re not open for business,” he said.

Taylor thinks there should be more public transparency on the Atlantic Park project, given that the mayor cited it as a reason to delay the Capstone briefing.

The City Council was scheduled to discuss Atlantic Park construction contracts in a closed meeting Tuesday afternoon.

“Let’s bring it to the open,” Taylor said. “Are we where we need to be or do we need some additional funds?”

Councilman Michael Berlucchi said he was concerned about the precedence set by the mayor’s decision.

“What’s wrong with a presentation?” Berlucchi said. “I’m confused by the notion that having a discussion about an idea is not good.”

Berlucchi also said he’s concerned about “the outside influence that a variety of individuals and organizations have over processes like this.”

Councilman Worth Remick, who represents the district that includes 19th Street, said the city and and the council should be open to hearing new development proposals.

“It does not mean we’re going to agree to anything,” he said.

While Remick agreed with the mayor on deferring the presentation, he said the Capstone proposal addresses several issues including the need for a convention center hotel, additional hotel rooms for sports events at the sports center and workforce housing.

“I hope that we get to that point in the future that we can get to nine votes on some proposal whether it’s this one or another,” he said.

Stacy Parker, 757-222-5125,