The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
When I was writing about the Porto Vista Hotel and Suites last week, I tried to figure out at what point the development’s 193 units had changed from a hotel-apartments mix — as it was originally planned — to all hotel rooms, as it appeared to be when I investigated.
The project was approved in 2004 based on the assumption that it would match the Little Italy neighborhood’s blueprint for development, but the project’s apparent shift to the 193-room hotel changes the neighborhood’s resident mix and bucks the plans that were vetted by the community.
I was curious to know how an altered project would affect city revenues. Hotel developers pay less upfront development impact fees than do apartment and condo developers. Did the project’s developer, Siry Investments, pay development impact fees for an apartment-hotel project, or just a hotel project?
I got an answer to that yesterday from Derek Danziger, CCDC spokesman.
Siry Investments made all of the required fee payments in line with the hotel-apartment mix that was planned when the project was finished, Danziger said.
The developer paid more than $147,900 in development impact fees because of the mix of uses, Danziger said. Had the project just been a hotel, the developer would only have had to pay about $10,000 in those fees, he said.
The project’s official plans on file with the city show it as having 74 studio apartments and 119 hotel rooms: a total of 193 units.
When I investigated the story last week, hotel staff and a representative of the developer said there are 193 rooms there. The apartments were nowhere to be found.
But it appears the developer paid the higher costs commensurate with its residential-commercial mix, even though it’s not clear that the mix of uses has been kept up since the building opened last year.
Development impact fees are assessed at a higher rate for residential uses than for commercial uses. The funds go for infrastructure uses like building parks and paying for fire protection — functions for which residential units generate more demand and from which residential units receive more benefits, according to city policies.
There’s another piece of my city revenues question that I’m trying to get answered: How much transient occupancy tax (hotel-room tax) money has the city been collecting from this project? Has the developer been charging hotel-room taxes on all 193 rooms and passing that along to the city, even though the project is officially only supposed to have 119 rooms?
Rachel Laing, spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office, is helping me answer that. Here’s an e-mail I received from her this morning, which gets at part of the answer:
According to someone in the Comptroller’s Office, the only way to be absolutely certain they’re paying TOT on every hotel room is through audits they perform approximately every two years on every hotel in the city. Each month of operation since the last audit is covered in these audits — meaning there is no unaudited period.
Laing visited the hotel’s website, which (weirdly) states the hotel has 203 rooms. She clicked on the various room types to see whether the room tax would show up. Here’s what she found:
If you try to book in any of the various room types, it includes TOT charges, so they’re at least charging the tax; whether they’re turning it over to the city is what the audit will determine.
Laing said the Comptroller’s Office is checking when the last audit was. I’ll let you know what I hear back.