A follow-up to the Open Letter to Council posting – Got (some?) emails per request. Found a few interesting items:
5/29/19 – A Letter of Intent given to County Manager Harry Burgess from TNJ Group of Companies, for construction of of hotel/conference center, in exchange for a) Los Alamos County (LAC) agrees to waive 50% of incremental property tax, up to $2million; and b) donation of the land, valued at $1.8million. Signed by Mr. Burgess on 6/12/19.
8/8/19 – Email from Patrick Sullivan, Exec Dir of LACDC, to Mr. Burgess. Mr. Sullivan writes “There is some concern that not all of the Councilors are supportive, in my opinion, due to misinformation being circulated on social media by a few members of the public. I am reaching out to councilors to talk to them about any questions and concerns…I would like to ask the board (of LACDC) to do so as well.”
8/9/19 – Email from Sara Scott, Council Chair, to Peter Lamborn – “TNJLA LLC initially proposed purchase of the 20th street properties for construction of a hotel. But because the community has been working towards a hotel and conference center…The LEDA proposal (which provides land to the developer) requires them to build and operate the conference center for 10 years.”
8/12/19 – Email from Kristen Laskey of the Los Alamos Daily Post, to Joanie Ahlers, LAC Economic Development Administrator, asking Ms. Ahlers to review a pending article. In it, Ms. Ahlers is quoted as saying “TNJ came to town looking to purchase land…liked the land on 20th Street the best.”
So, in review:
- TNJ was ready to buy the land for the hotel;
- LAC wanted to include a conference center;
- To get the conference center, LAC donates $1,825,000 in Real Estate (Includes value of Smart House) $175,000 in contribution to the traffic signal (total donation $2M);
- LAC foregoes Descartes rent for the remaining 5.5 years of the lease. The lease is a sliding scale from $41,874 per year – $77,766 per year (total -$302,500 [used $55,00 x 5.5])
- LAC foregoes 50% of incremental property tax, up to $2M.
- Total cost to LAC = $4,325,500.
It appears that LAC has not been completely forthcoming about this deal and its costs. It seems to me that a better deal would be for TNJ to purchase some of the land, build the hotel, and pay their full taxes. The conference center could be done as a separate entity or as a LAC project. Once again, I ask the Councilors to table this proposed ordinance until more information is available and a propert solicitaion considering the above information has been done.