Gaylord hotel in Aurora: Attorney general denies competitors' request to revoke its tax incentives
The saga of the Gaylord hotel in Aurora continues -- this time with good news for the folks behind the proposed 1,500-room hotel and convention center.
A rendering of the hotel.
In a letter on view below, the state attorney general's office has denied a request by a group of Colorado hotels that the Colorado Economic Development Commission reconsider its May 2012 decision to grant the project $81.4 million in state sales-tax rebates over thirty years under the Regional Tourism Act. The main reason? The request came too late, the AG says.
"The RTA is silent as to whether the Commission's final agency action approving a regional tourism project is subject to judicial review," wrote first assistant attorney general Leeann Morrill in a letter to the lawyers who filed the petition on behalf of the hotels. However, she adds, Colorado law dictates that the petitioners likely would have had between 28 and 35 days after the commission made its decision on May 18, 2012 to request such a review.
"As you know, the Petitioners did not avail themselves of either mechanism for judicial review, and did not file a petition for reconsideration of the May 18, 2012 approval with the Commission before the expiration of either statute of limitations," Morrill writes.
"For these reasons, your clients' petition for reconsideration of the Commission's approval of the Aurora Application is untimely and, therefore, improper under Colorado law."
The hotels -- which include the Brown Palace, the Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton in Denver -- argued that the project's finances and players have changed so much that the whole thing needed to be reconsidered. They're right about the changes: Shortly after the commission made its decision, Gaylord Entertainment announced that it was reorganizing and selling the rights to manage its four existing hotels to Marriott. As for Aurora, it said it would "re-examine how the project could be completed with minimal financial commitment by Gaylord during the development phase" -- which seemed like bad news.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers's office sided with Gaylord.
But a year later, a new developer, RIDA Development Corporation, took over. As long as RIDA didn't change the scope and size of the project, it wouldn't have to reapply for incentives under the Regional Tourism Act, economic development officials said.
So how are the petitioners taking the news? We've put in a call to the attorneys who filed the petition on behalf of the hotels and we'll update this post if and when we hear back.
Aurora, meanwhile, seems happy. Wendy Mitchell, the president of the Aurora Economic Development Council, sent the following one-sentence statement: "We're very pleased with this decision from the Attorney General's office and look forward to continuing our work on the Gaylord project."
The Gaylord hotel wasn't the only project granted incentives under the RTA last year; the commission also approved $14.8 million in sales-tax rebates over thirty years for a project in Pueblo to expand its riverwalk and convention center, as well as build a Professional Bull Riding University. Four other tourism projects, including Glendale's plan to build a riverwalk along Cherry Creek, were not picked. As explained in our recent cover story, "Fantasy Island," Glendale don't give a shit. The tiny landlocked city known for its iconic strip club is moving forward with plans to build a riverwalk anyway.
Continue to read the hotels' letter requesting Gaylord's approval be reconsidered, and the attorney general's letter denying that request.