Friday, November 19, 2010


Star reporter Dale Quinn has a piece calling our attention to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Transwest Resort Properties Inc., the company that owns Tucson's Westin La Paloma as well as the Westin Hilton Head in South Carolina. The move was made to stave off imminent foreclosure due to failure to make mortgage payments for over three months.

According to the piece, Bill Petrella, the resort’s general manager, stated that room rates average around $300, but a simple inquiry at its web page shows many rooms available for well under $200. Those familiar with statistics know how one can play with means. Whatever the rates, the bottom line isn't sufficient to pay the mortgage. The ship is taking on water.

This follows up on a Quinn 9/26 article about the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, which is delinquent on $165 million in mortgages and also teetering on the brink.

Perhaps if we built a $1/4 billion dollar hotel downtown, so many people would flock into town that it would be overwhelmed. People who couldn't get rooms at the downtown jewel would have to settle for the La Paloma in the foothills or the Starr Pass resort. The extraordinary energy would produce a critical mass and word about Tucson would go viral across the globe. Gay bohemians from Sweden and avant garde artists of the Parisian creative class would ride the trolley car and marvel at the pretty tile on S. 4th and 6th Ave.

Juanito's 12 Ave. taco truck couldn't make tacos fast enough.

UPDATE: Quinn 11/19 Follow Up Piece


Blogger Cigar Man said...

This underscores the absurdity of the Garfield Traub Cloth infested downtown farce.

Tucson dodged a bullet. I have an idea. Let's build a ball park out on Kino Ave. near the hospital. With Tucson's weather, baseball teams would flock here for spring training, and they would need a place to stay.

11/19/2010 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tucson did dodge a bullet.

These people love to spend taxpayer money to buy something and then pretend the purchase was an accomplishment. MTCVB uses taxpayer funds to buy a website. Then it brags about its website. TREO uses taxpayer money to pay a consultant to make a plan. Then it brags about the plan.

The formula is simple.

1. Get a bunch of taxpayer money.
2. Take half for yourself.
3. Pay rest to consultant for x.
4. Claim you made x.
5. Repeat.

If you are Rio Neuvo and no x is produced, the spending doesn't count.

TREO also uses a modified version.

1. Get a bunch of taxpayer money.
2. Take half for yourself.
3. Give rest to consultant to inform you when a business has good result x.
4. Claim you caused x.
5. Repeat.

11/19/2010 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

It's been pointed out over and over again that if the downtown hotel was a winner, private money would make it happen and reap the reward.

The reality of course is different.

It's great to see the Star shedding some light on the reality. That is their job.

I don't remember which commenter here said that Rob O'Dell was becoming one of the most powerful figures in town, but I think he's right. In fact, I would go as far as to say that, on top of the efforts of others, O'Dell provided the tipping point that prevented the downtown hotel boondoggle.

Quinn provides the financial angle that reinforces the folly that Alan Willenbrock brought to our attention regarding the ludicrous HVS projections.

11/19/2010 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Whoops. When I said the reality is different, I meant the HVS stuff, not the fact the private money would act on a sound opportunity.

11/19/2010 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

I disagree with Observer's point that Rob O'Dell provided the tipping point that prevented the hotel boondoggle.

O'Dell did his job, certainly, but it was Steve Kozachik's persistent opposition that wore everyone down. He asked questions relentlessly, brought in the national expert who helped the city council to rethink its position, and forced everyone to either see the truth or confirm that they were on the take.

Kozachik deserves most of the credit for taking down the Garfield Traub monster.

11/21/2010 6:10 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Yeah, I have to chime in with Anon 2, and this is not to take anything away from O'Dell's work.

Steve K. holds office, and his bringing in Heywood Sanders to present to the city council was a pretty big deal. I would also say that Allan Willenbrock going rogue and writing what he wrote poured some gasoline onto the fire Steve K. helped light.

The understanding about this and other matters Cloth (MTCVB, etc.) appears to be growing. At the Star, it is now not only O'Dell, but Brodesky and Kelly as well. Even Bodfield and Quinn are starting to produce reports that shed additional light on these kinds of questions.

11/21/2010 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Robish said...

I agree with Anon 2 also.

Alan Willenbrock made a contribution, to be sure, but there were several other Rio Nuevo board members who were skeptical or outright opposed to the Garfield Traub deal from the beginning. Rio Nuevo voted 6-2 in favor of moving ahead with the plan, albeit with conditions that were non-starters to the City Council. Some of those who voted in favor may have done so because they thought it was the best way to kill the project, to send it to the City with unacceptable conditions.

Ultimately it was not Rio Nuevo that made the decision to kill the project, it was surprisingly the City Council, and so that is why Kozachik deserves the lion's share of the credit.

Yes, he brought in Heywood Sanders, which made a difference, but it was his own persistent actions over the last year, going back to the campaign. He questioned this project relentlessly, in the media, in memos and newsletters, and especially at the Council table, week after week for about eight months.

It cannot be said enough times, that the villains here are Jeff DiGregorio, Anne-Marie Russell, Greg Shelko, Mike Letcher, Mike Hein, and the City Council pre-Kozachik. Let's throw in Garfield Traub's local consultants, Brent Davis, Michael Guymon, and Fred Ronstadt.

In the media, it wasn't just the print media and this blog that fought the good fight. John C. Scott joined Wake Up Tucson's Chris and Joe, and Jon Justice, as radio voices who were consistently critical of the Garfield Traub boondoggle.

John C. gave Alan and Steve a regular forum to ask questions, plant seeds of doubt, and ultimately win in the court of public opinion.

The vast majority of Tucsonans are very relieved the City Council listened to Kozachik.

11/21/2010 7:53 PM  

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