Brevard County commissioners OK $30M marketing grant to Cocoa Beach Westin hotel project

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County commissioners on Tuesday — ignoring its own advisory panel’s recommendation — authorised a controversial proposal to grant of up to $30 million to the developer guiding the planned Westin Cocoa Beach Vacation resort & Spa, in accordance to News 6 husband or wife Florida Currently.

The vote was 3-1. Voting in favor of the grant have been County Fee Chair Kristine Zonka, Vice Chair Curt Smith and Commissioner Rita Pritchett. The sole vote from it was by Commissioner John Tobia.

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The funds for the developer, Driftwood Money, will occur from up to fifty percent of the income the Westin expects to deliver from the county’s 5% tourist enhancement tax on hotel rooms and other small-term rental. The grant extends for 30 many years, with up to $1 million readily available to the business every 12 months.

The vote came in spite of opposition and a advice of “no” from the advisory Brevard County Vacationer Development Council, as properly as from Brevard County hoteliers and other area people who resolved the fee just before its vote.

Now, the concern could head to court docket. Daniel Mantzaris, an lawyer representing Bob Baugher, the proprietor of lodges in the Cocoa Beach front/Cape Canaveral tourism corridor, explained he believes the grant is illegal.

He sent commissioners a 5-web site memo outlining his sights on the concern and also tackled commissioners at Tuesday’s conference.

“The proposed grant settlement is an unauthorized and prohibited use of the Vacationer Development Tax,” Mantzaris explained in his memo. “It has been conclusively established that tourist growth tax are unable to be utilised to fund privately owned assignments. Regardless of how it is presented, the matter task has not been constructed, and the paperwork and the funding analysis obviously create the grant as alternate funding of capital enhancements that will be privately owned. Further more, the proposed grant arrangement is a considerable modify to the existing tourist development tax funds and to be authorised needs a unanimous vote of the 4 existing commissioner.”

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Interim Brevard County Lawyer Christine Schverak disagrees, and claimed the proposed use of the tax is legal and needs only 3 affirmative votes of the County Commission.

Supporters and opponents of the grant packed the County Fee chambers to convey views on Westin’s proposal, with most of the 30 speakers indicating they have been against the grant.

The project grant was backed by a significant-driven neighborhood lobbying team employed by Driftwood that included previous Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher, legal professional Kendall Moore and former Brevard County Legal professional Scott Knox.

Driftwood has preserved that it need to get the $30 million grant simply because its task is “transformational” for the Area Coastline tourism market, and will gain other accommodations in the area. Driftwood also mentioned it would have hassle lining up investors for what it states is a $388 million undertaking without the $30 million commitment from the county for the promoting plan.

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The proposed 502-place Westin vacation resort lodge and meeting center would switch Driftwood’s existing 502-space International Palms Vacation resort at that hotel’s Condition Highway A1A website. The Westin would attribute 11 food items and beverage venues, a spa, three swimming pools, a conditioning centre, a number of retail destinations, and a multistory parking garage to accommodate about 800 motor vehicles. The elaborate also would consist of about 50,000 sq. toes of indoor meeting space and about 70,000 square feet of out of doors meeting place.

Driftwood Cash Main Monetary Officer Glenn Wasserman reported, inside 5 decades soon after opening, the Westin project would guidance 1,300 neighborhood work opportunities, and would raise tourism tax revenues by $3.1 million a calendar year, as well as boost area gross sales tax and house tax profits.

“A Westin, I think, is a activity-changer for this community,” Commissioner Rita Pritchett said, not only for its optimistic tourism impacts, but also for boosting the price of the assets and raising property tax earnings. “It will have a lengthy-term affect on our neighborhood and our quality of lifestyle.”

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Through a lengthy dialogue, Tobia sought to persuade at the very least one additional commissioner to oppose the grant, but was unsuccessful.

Soon after the vote, Driftwood officers explained to FLORIDA Now they ended up delighted by the result.

“We are incredibly energized about the grant award,” Wasserman explained. “It is something that we were hunting for, and we have worked diligently to come up with the framework that would benefit the county, advantage the community, and assist us secure the funding that we are going to will need in order to create the residence.”

Carlos Rodriguez, chairman, chief government officer and founder of Driftwood Cash, claimed that “this will absolutely profit the neighborhood and the full of Brevard County.”

Rodriguez claimed that “with bigger real estate taxes coming from that assets, that generally allows the commissioners not to enhance the millage rates, not to raise taxes on Brevard County citizens. We are obtaining a minimal piece of new pounds, but it is from travellers, not from inhabitants, and the Brevard County citizens are getting the influence of all these new visitors coming in and purchasing in their retailers, having in their restaurants. We cannot accommodate anyone coming to the conference centre, so we are heading to crank out a large amount of place evenings for fellow hoteliers.”

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The Tourist Development Council — an advisory board to the County Fee — did not assistance Westin’s request. Rather, the panel earlier voted 7-1 to assistance a promoting grant to Westin of up to $500,000 a calendar year for seven yrs — a whole of up to $3.5 million — with the Business office of Tourism workers and not Driftwood accountable for coordinating the marketing effort and hard work. That proposal was released by Vacationer Development Council member Giles Malone, who is a husband or wife in the House Coastline Daily media corporation, as effectively as a associate in an event and sports activities administration enterprise.

This alternate proposal was not talked over during the County Commission debate on Tuesday.

Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik and Town Commissioner Mike Miller have been between people supporting Driftwood’s proposal.

Malik claimed the Westin would substitute the “eyesore” that the Intercontinental Palms is and a area that have experienced several law enforcement phone calls.

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But, in questioning Malik and Miller, Tobia observed that the town of Cocoa Beach front did not approve any grant revenue for the project.

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