In response to yesterday’s big announcement that the city will be getting into the hotel business, Harlan Crow fired off his third missive to Mayor Tom -- which we've gotten our hands on to share with the Friends of Unfair Park. This time, Crow and two of his top officials, Anne Raymond and Gina Norris, say a review of the study by HVS Convention, Sports & Entertainment Facilities Consulting shows “taxpayers will lose over $200 million in the first 10 years of operation.” HVS was hired by the city to do a feasibility study for the convention center hotel, and its study was released at the April 7 meeting of the Economic Development Committee.
“That the Economic Development Committee would unanimously recommend buying an overpriced parking lot to build and own a hotel that no sophisticated private investor would build shows a complete disregard for the economic realities that will be irresponsibly imposed on the taxpayers,” the letter says.
Crow and company say they were “astounded by the jubilant announcement” from committee chairman Ron Natinsky, who said the hotel would become a money-maker for the city. They claim the committee decided on a “development scheme” for the convention center hotel.
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Crow Holdings, which owns the Hilton Anatole, also provided Leppert with a four-page analysis of the study, which claims the HVS study is “flawed and inflated.” It also says the reduction of hotel occupancy taxes and property taxes that would result from the new hotel “will cannibalize tax-paying hotels.”
In addition to Crow’s letter, Angela Hunt was busy yesterday getting council members’ signatures on a memo also addressed to Leppert. The memo asks the mayor for a full council briefing on the Dallas Central Appraisal District’s recent appraisals of downtown properties. Hunt has the required five signatures on the memo, but she says she’ll continue to circulate it for additional signatures today before giving it to Leppert.
Hunt cites “recent media reports” that revealed DCAD has been undervaluing downtown commercial properties for several years. She points out that while many downtown property appraisals have remained stagnant or decreased over the years, residential property valuations have seen significant increases.
“As a result, the City of Dallas may have lost and may continue to lose millions of tax dollars due to these undervalued appraisals,” Hunt writes. “Furthermore, we are concerned that this inequity has placed a greater tax burden on Dallas residential property owners.” --Sam Merten