Disney pulls the plug on Anaheim luxury hotel

Plans for a luxury hotel at Downtown Disney in Anaheim are dead, and the area will remain focused on shopping, dining and entertainment, Walt Disney Co. officials announced Wednesday.

Disney had started this summer emptying out businesses, including Rainforest Cafe and ESPN Zone, to make way for the hotel expected to lure business and pleasure travelers seeking high-end accommodations.

City officials previously agreed to redirect most of the taxes collected on those luxe nights’ stays to help Disney absorb the cost of building the hotel to AAA’s four-diamond standards.

But the project has been in limbo since August, when the city told Disney a shift in the location of the project meant it could no longer receive the promised tax incentive.

On Wednesday, the company officially pulled the plug.

“We’ve taken the time to review the economics of our proposed four-diamond hotel for Anaheim and have made the final decision to cancel the project,” spokeswoman Lisa Haines said in a statement.

“While this is disappointing for many,” she said, “the conditions and agreements that stimulated this investment in Anaheim no longer exist and we must therefore adjust our long-term investment strategy.”

Disney officials said they’re looking to bring back food and entertainment venues to the shuttered storefronts of that part of Downtown Disney now that the hotel isn’t going forward, but no immediate details were available. Earl of Sandwich, a popular restaurant, recently reopened.

Construction on the 700-room hotel was supposed to start this year, in time for a 2021 opening.

When Anaheim leaders agreed to help the hotel project along in 2016, they were offering tax incentives to encourage developers to make the investment required to earn four-diamond status. There was a need, they said, for more luxe accommodations to attract bigger spenders away from other markets.

Disneyland and two Wincome Group affiliates took up Anaheim’s offer: 70 percent of future hotel taxes for 20 years.

For Disney, that meant an estimated $267 million to help finance the project.

But the tax agreement became a sore point for some city leaders and a political talking point for unions representing Disneyland Resort workers, who have campaigned for months for higher wages.

Wincome, which also put a hotel on hold in light of the ballot measure, won’t make a final decision until after the election, said consultant Jeff Flint, who represents the company.

Disneyland is going to get a whole lot more crowded when its Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens next summer. And the city’s

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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