El Paso blogger Brutus Ep alerted us to this extremely misleading map (top of graphic) that City leaders used in a presentation to give City Council a reason to vote yes for the “boneheaded and dumbass real estate deal of the decade”. (my words)
I’ve redone the map the way it should look (bottom of graphic) and asked a serious question that apparently mayor Margo, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and all city council reps have not bothered to consider. Or they have but completely disregard the asinine logic they are using to justify the following:
1) Great Wolf Lodge is NOT a resort or a complex. They are a 3-star hotel chain that charge 5-star prices on their rooms. Think Holiday Inn with an indoor water park, rock climbing wall and an average convention meeting space.
2) There are only 16 of these hotels throughout the country. Not exactly a proven track record, especially in a border city like El Paso that is isolated. As my modified map clearly shows, El Paso will be competing with several world-class cities for tourists that live between GWL locations. Highly unlikely people will pick El Paso’s GWL over the world class cities with GWL.
3) City trades 2313 acres of prime real estate land surrounding Painted Dunes Golf Course in NE El Paso to Paul Foster for his 44 acres of prime real estate off I-10 in NW El Paso by Helen of Troy. City trades acreage at negligently undervalued prices (1970 prices) for an average of $8,000 per acre while Foster trades his 44 acres at San Francisco/San Jose real estate prices getting $427,000 per acre. Does that sound like a fair trade to you?
4) City once again gives away the farm in desperately needed taxes to GWL. Millions of dollars in tax abatements as follows — NO city property taxes collected for 15 years; they keep 50% of the Hotel Occupancy Taxes they charge for 15 years; and they keep 100% of any sales tax they generate over 15 years. These are taxes the City should demand so that taxpayers stop shouldering the bulk of taxes while the corporate sector only contributes 30%. This is why we drive on third world streets in El Paso. This is why our city’s infrastructure is crumbling.
5) In 2007, the City was offered $27,132 per acre for virtually the same land in NE El Paso by Hunt Companies. 11 years later the City is trading it to Foster for pennies on the dollar. The City is paying Foster more than double the cost for similar land sold in NW El Paso. Why would they do that? What’s wrong with this picture?
6) City charges $1,000 a year for 10 years to GWL for leasing the 44 acres which we paid $18,500,000 to Foster for. At the end of 10 years, GWL can buy their land for an additional $5,000. They will have paid $15,000 for $18,500,000 worth of prime acreage.
7) City will try in an almost certainly losing effort to convince the state that GWL has a bonafide “convention center” so that they can qualify for big state tax rebates. GWL has the same “convention space” any other Holiday Inn or Hyatt Hotel has. A 10,000 sq ft room that they can throw out a bunch of tables and chairs to call a “convention center.” By contrast, the El Paso CVB is 133,000 sq ft. which is 13 times larger.
8) City as part of the contract will owe GWL $40,000,000 paid over 10 years if they cannot convince the state that GWL operates a true convention center. Guess who pays that $40,000,000? That’s right, you and I and our kids via our taxes.
Tommy Gonzalez, mayor Margo, Peter Svarzbein and city leaders would have us believe that we deserve this and that we need to make bold moves to acquire A 3-STAR HOTEL mini-chain while giving away tens of millions in valuable land and desperately needed taxes?
How do they figure that?
Tomorrow city council will vote on whether to consummate the “boneheaded and dumbass real estate deal of the decade”.
We’ll find out where their loyalties lie…the people of El Paso or the real estate developers.
Take a wild guess.
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