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Hilton Garden Inn agreement up for Prescott Council vote Tuesday

An amended agreement that includes “significant changes” to a hotel deal in downtown Prescott will be among the issues that could be decided by the Prescott City Council this week. (Courier stock photo)

An amended agreement that includes “significant changes” to a hotel deal in downtown Prescott will be among the issues that could be decided by the Prescott City Council this week. (Courier stock photo)

An amended agreement that includes “significant changes” to a hotel deal in downtown Prescott will be among the issues that could be decided by the Prescott City Council this week.

Also up for a possible vote will be an increase in the city’s annual contribution to the Whiskey Off-Road mountain bike race.

The council will conduct three meetings on Tuesday, Jan. 22: a 10 a.m. closed-door executive session; a 1 p.m. study session; and a 3 p.m. voting meeting. All three meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Among the issues on the 3 p.m. meeting agenda is an expected council vote on the amended development and disposition agreement with WSH Hospitality for a Hilton Garden Inn project on a 1.9-acre parcel of city-owned land at the corner of Sheldon and Montezuma streets.

The council considered the amended agreement during a study session on Jan. 8, and will have the option of voting on the document this week.

The original agreement for the project was approved by the council on Sept. 11, 2018, and the city later proposed a number of changes to the document. A city memo states that since the original approval, “Significant changes to the project and adjoining lands have occurred.”

For instance, the maximum height of the hotel building is being proposed to be reduced from 70 feet to 55 feet. In addition, partnerships with adjoining landowners have occurred.

The city also re-advertised the project since the Sept. 11 approval to solicit interest in the property from other hotel developers. The city memo states: “There have been no other offers on the subject property.”

Still, several speakers at the Jan. 8 study session maintained that the subsequent advertisement was not valid, because the city had already approved the original agreement.

Questions also arose about the lease/purchase of the property being proposed.

The agreement calls for a 50-year lease of the property for $15,000 per year, with one 30-year renewal option, as well as an option to purchase after the first five years, for $300,000.

At least three speakers at the Jan. 8 meeting maintained that the agreement under-estimates the value of the property.

City officials have maintained, however, that the value of the land is affected by its location in the floodway, which requires substantial additional costs to the developers.

The city memo also emphasizes the financial impact of the hotel project. “In addition to the ground lease payments to the city for land that has never generated income for the city, WSH will contribute directly to the city by assuming costs for improvements that would not otherwise have occurred,” it states.

In other action, the council will consider:

• A five-year agreement with Mountain Bike America/Epic Rides LLC that would increase the city’s annual contribution to $50,000 – up from the previous $30,000 per year.

In addition, the proposed agreement includes a $2,000-per-year escalator of the city contribution, as well as the city responsibility for coordinating 65 room nights for event staff at local establishments, and city services for traffic control, trash collection, emergency medical services, and security.

John Heiney, community outreach manager for the city, said the tourism department would work with local hotels and housing rentals to seek commitments for donated rooms. Any room nights that are not donated would be the responsibility of the city, he said.

• Receive a presentation from the Arizona Commission of African American Affairs and the Arizona NAACP with letters of support for the council’s stance in December against the racially disparaging remarks by Prescott State Legislator David Stringer.

• Consider establishing two sign-free zones – a move that would allow city staff to remove temporary political and other signs from the zones, which would include the downtown and airport areas.

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