Letter: Public should understand nature of tax agreement between Greeley, DoubleTree

To the Editor: The Greeley Tribune reprinted a BizWest Media article on October 21, 2020 detailing the Greeley City Council’s approval to defer a payment of $212,242.00, an amount representing sums due for 2021 on a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement. Based on comments in response to the article and communications received by hotel owners and investors, it appears that the public does not understand the nature of the tax agreement the hotel has with the City of Greeley.
The brief story doesn’t provide the community with any background information explaining that this redevelopment incentive was not tax relief. More importantly, the article doesn’t address the fact that for 20 years, the Greeley community sought out a developer who was willing to build a downtown Greeley hotel and conference venue.
The DoubleTree sits adjacent to the Union Colony Civic Center (UCCC), home of the nearly 110-year-old Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra. As a performance venue with two concert halls, the UCCC hosts national acts, local talent, and UNC productions. Through the hard work of the Downtown Development Authority (the DDA) and supportive merchants, business owners, and restaurateurs, downtown Greeley has become a destination for dining, the arts, and shopping. It continues to be a work in progress, but there is no question that the hotel offers welcome opportunities to stay and play downtown, shop, dine, and enjoy music and theater productions. The hotel also offers meeting space for local service clubs, and many area non-profits shifted events to the new ballroom.
Covid-19 and the pandemic have created unprecedented financial difficulties for the restaurant, entertainment, and tourism industries. According to Sonia Riggs, President and CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, within the next six months, 65% of Colorado’s restaurants are considering closing permanently because of ongoing capacity restrictions and because there has not been a second round of significant cash relief at the federal level. The Colorado restaurant industry was a $14.5 billion industry in 2019. The CRA estimates the industry lost nearly $1 billion in April alone. Hundreds of restaurants in the state have been permanently lost. In addition to not dining out, Americans are not traveling much at this time. The UCCC cancelled Fall 2020 performances to protect the public’s health. Spring 2021 performances are uncertain. Downtown entertainment has been reduced to virtual performances and small ensembles performing outside. The result of all this has been to hamstring organizations and supportive industry, necessitating the City’s deferral of the TIF in the case of the DoubleTree.
The DoubleTree Hotel came into existence to benefit the Greeley community as a whole. Greeley taxpayers need guidance to understand the current economic conditions in light of the unusual times in which we live.
Emily Kemme