Tap dance: Hotel plan doomed?

Hampton Inn site up in the air due to $160K fee requirement

Bringing in a 72-room Hampton Inn hotel into the city may have hit another snag.

Following the good news that a sewer line had enough capacity to handle the needs of the business and its lodgers, now comes bad news.

It could be quite expensive for Hampton Inn to open up a hotel in Cortez anytime soon.

For the proposed 72-unit hotel, the plant investment fee, commonly referred to as the tap fee would be a little more than $160,000.

The Cortez Sanitation District board, realizing the figures could be skewed, has submitted a request for qualifications (REQ) for a company or person who could tell them if the tap fee figures are too high.

"We think they are a little high," said board member Jim Candelaria. "We need to find out for sure."

If AAA Hotel Developers wanted to build immediately it would be subject to the current tap fee, and Candelaria said this would be decided when and if the project moves forward.

The hotel would be located east of the Holiday Inn Express and south of the Baymont Inn and Suites.

Candelaria also said that they are seeking a person or company who could look at the fees for the entire district, not just the Hampton Inn or the land where the new Cortez high school will be built.

Candelaria said the hotel company has not submitted any plans to the sanitation district yet, though, he added that they have expressed an interest in building and opening up a hotel in Cortez.

AAA Hotel Developers recently opened a hotel in Alamosa. Candelaria said the fees charged in that area have little bearing on what they will charge because geographical areas cannot be compared.

"It's hard to compare apples to oranges," he said. "We need to find out what is right for us."

Completing the study to determine what the rates should be could take plenty of time so the current fees are what any new developer would have to pay prior to the study being completed.

"As a board we want this (study) to be developed as soon as possible," he said, adding how long it will actually take is an unknown.

Phil Starks, sanitation district superintendent, said the REQ is simply being done to see whether the fees being charged are justified.

Candelaria also said the board is concerned that the current fee could result in Hampton Inn representatives deciding to go elsewhere.

"It is a concern," he said. "Speaking for myself, anything we can do to benefit the community is a good thing for the economy."

Still, determining what the fees should be is paramount because the method used to determine the fees have remained the same for at least the past 18 years.

The Cortez Sanitation District's tap fees for this hotel would be $4,500 for the first unit, $2,430 for units two to 50 and $2,262 for units 51 to 72.

"The fees do not seem right, and we need to see what is (correct)," Candelaria said.