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

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County commissioners on Tuesday — disregarding its possess advisory panel’s advice — approved a controversial proposal to grant of up to $30 million to the developer at the rear of the prepared Westin Cocoa Seaside Resort & Spa, in accordance to News 6 associate Florida Nowadays.

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

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The income for the developer, Driftwood Cash, will occur from up to 50 percent of the income the Westin expects to produce from the county’s 5% vacationer advancement tax on hotel rooms and other shorter-time period rental. The grant extends for 30 a long time, with up to $1 million readily available to the corporation every year.

The vote came in spite of opposition and a suggestion of “no” from the advisory Brevard County Vacationer Development Council, as well as from Brevard County hoteliers and other neighborhood citizens who addressed the commission right before its vote.

Now, the difficulty could head to courtroom. Daniel Mantzaris, an legal professional symbolizing Bob Baugher, the operator of resorts in the Cocoa Seaside/Cape Canaveral tourism corridor, stated he thinks the grant is unlawful.

He sent commissioners a five-web page memo outlining his sights on the problem and also addressed commissioners at Tuesday’s assembly.

“The proposed grant agreement is an unauthorized and prohibited use of the Tourist Growth Tax,” Mantzaris reported in his memo. “It has been conclusively identified that vacationer progress tax are not able to be utilized to fund privately owned initiatives. Regardless of how it is introduced, the subject matter undertaking has not been made, and the files and the funding analysis plainly set up the grant as alternate funding of funds improvements that will be privately owned. Additional, the proposed grant agreement is a significant modify to the existing tourist growth tax spending budget and to be accepted needs a unanimous vote of the 4 recent commissioner.”


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

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

The project grant was backed by a substantial-powered community lobbying workforce hired by Driftwood that bundled previous Brevard County Commissioner Robin Fisher, attorney Kendall Moore and previous Brevard County Attorney Scott Knox.

Driftwood has managed that it should really get the $30 million grant simply because its task is “transformational” for the Area Coastline tourism field, and will gain other resorts in the location. Driftwood also explained it would have hassle lining up investors for what it claims is a $388 million job without the $30 million motivation from the county for the promoting software.


The proposed 502-area Westin vacation resort hotel and convention middle would exchange Driftwood’s current 502-home Intercontinental Palms Resort at that hotel’s Condition Highway A1A web site. The Westin would function 11 foodstuff and beverage venues, a spa, 3 swimming pools, a health middle, a number of retail places, and a multistory parking garage to accommodate about 800 motor vehicles. The complex also would contain about 50,000 sq. toes of indoor convention house and about 70,000 sq. toes of outside meeting area.

Driftwood Cash Main Monetary Officer Glenn Wasserman claimed, in five many years after opening, the Westin venture would help 1,300 local positions, and would increase tourism tax revenues by $3.1 million a year, as well as increase area gross sales tax and house tax revenue.

“A Westin, I believe, is a match-changer for this local community,” Commissioner Rita Pritchett mentioned, not only for its optimistic tourism impacts, but also for boosting the worth of the home and rising home tax revenue. “It will have a extended-expression impression on our neighborhood and our high-quality of lifestyle.”


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

Immediately after the vote, Driftwood officers informed FLORIDA Now they were happy by the outcome.

“We are extremely psyched about the grant award,” Wasserman reported. “It is anything that we ended up seeking for, and we have worked diligently to occur up with the construction that would profit the county, profit the community, and assist us protected the financing that we are going to need to have in purchase to build the property.”

Carlos Rodriguez, chairman, main government officer and founder of Driftwood Capital, stated that “this will undoubtedly gain the local community and the whole of Brevard County.”

Rodriguez explained that “with higher actual estate taxes coming from that residence, that in essence will allow the commissioners not to enhance the millage fees, not to boost taxes on Brevard County citizens. We are finding a little piece of new pounds, but it is from travelers, not from inhabitants, and the Brevard County inhabitants are getting the influence of all these new visitors coming in and getting in their stores, eating in their restaurants. We simply cannot accommodate every person coming to the convention center, so we are heading to create a ton of home nights for fellow hoteliers.”


The Vacationer Improvement Council — an advisory board to the County Commission — did not support Westin’s request. As an alternative, the panel earlier voted 7-1 to aid a advertising grant to Westin of up to $500,000 a yr for seven several years — a total of up to $3.5 million — with the Office of Tourism workers and not Driftwood accountable for coordinating the promoting effort. That proposal was introduced by Vacationer Progress Council member Giles Malone, who is a associate in the Room Coastline Every day media organization, as nicely as a lover in an party and sports management business enterprise.

This choice proposal was not talked over for the duration of the County Commission debate on Tuesday.

Cocoa Beach front Mayor Ben Malik and Town Commissioner Mike Miller were being between those supporting Driftwood’s proposal.

Malik mentioned the Westin would swap the “eyesore” that the Global Palms is and a site that have had various law enforcement calls.


But, in questioning Malik and Miller, Tobia pointed out that the metropolis of Cocoa Beach did not approve any grant cash for the undertaking.

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