Cheryl Cox, the mayor of sunny Chula Vista, California, has a message for hospitality giant Gaylord Entertainment: I ain't mad atcha. In 2008, Gaylord abandoned plans to build a massive hotel on the city's bayfront, located just south of San Diego.
"There's absolutely no bad blood," says the upbeat Cox. "They left because we weren't ready for them." But Cox is quick to add that Chula Vista is ready now: "I sincerely hope that Gaylord is just as interested as they were several years ago."
That's the tack taken by Aurora officials as well, after the Tennessee-based company announced last week that it's reorganizing and selling the rights to manage its four gigantic hotels to Marriott. A planned 1,500-room hotel in Aurora, to which the state recently awarded $81.4 million in sales-tax rebates, could now be in jeopardy. In a statement, Gaylord says it will "re-examine how the project could be completed with minimal financial commitment by Gaylord during the development phase." But Aurora officials have insisted that the deal is still on.
The mayor of Mesa, Arizona, isn't so optimistic. Gaylord has had plans to build a hotel there since 2008, but construction was put on hold when Arizona's tourism industry took a major hit at the beginning of the recession, says Mayor Scott Smith: "We still officially have a deal. Gaylord has not ever said they're not building in Mesa."
But he figures both the Mesa and Aurora projects will likely be impacted by Gaylord's reorganization. He still hadn't spoken to Gaylord the day after the announcement, though he says the company wouldn't give his developer a solid answer.
Chula Vista's situation was different, but the result was the same: hopes inflated and then dashed. Cox admits that Chula Vista was partly to blame. "We hadn't dealt with environmental issues or the preservation of the wetlands," she says. Chula Vista got ahead of itself, soliciting businesses before it had shored up the 556 acres of waterfront land it hopes to develop. Now that the process is almost complete, Cox hopes Gaylord — or Marriott-as-Gaylord, or whoever — will take a second look.
Cox knows first-hand how impressive the Gaylord hotels are. She's been to all four, in Nashville, Orlando, Dallas and Washington, D.C. — for research purposes, of course. She even went to a recruitment event Gaylord held to hire employees for its newest hotel in D.C. After it chose the best candidates, she says, Gaylord threw them a party. "It's impossible not to be impressed," she says.
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Tell that to Aurora.
Mommy porn: Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey, the New York Times bestseller that's supposedly turning moms around the country into dynamic sexual fetishists by the minivan-full? According to The Stapletonion – which describes itself as an online, satirical publication whose content in no way reflects real events occurring in the Stapleton community – the EL James-penned book is going to have some serious consequences for the planned community.
"Stapleton is already overcrowded with young children to the point where people are already demanding a fourth and fifth elementary school to accommodate the needs of the community," the fake story begins. "Forrest [sic] City statistician Eric Lewis is expecting things to get worse before they get better. 'A lot of families were done having kids, or at least they thought,' said Lewis. 'There are many book clubs all over Stapleton, and many of those clubs have been reading the NY Times Best Seller Fifty Shades of Grey. We are predicting that families with two kids will have three in the next year, and families with three kids will soon have four. These surprise babies or unplanned pregnancies we are calling Shades of Grey babies.'"
Better not unload the crib at the garage sale just yet.