$2 million requested from Del. for hotel
A private real estate developer is asking state taxpayers for $2 million to help build a Westin hotel on the Wilmington Riverfront.
BPG Hotel Partners XXI LLC -- whose owners are Robert Buccini of Chadds Ford, Pa., David Pollin of Washington, D.C., and Christopher Buccini of Greenville -- has applied for the money from the newly created New Jobs Infrastructure Fund.
The company says in its application that unless it gets the money, "the $36 million project would not go forward."
Some members of the committee that will review the application on Monday had already questioned the group's proposal to use the money for construction of the building instead of for infrastructure.
Sen. Robert Venables Sr., D-Laurel, chairman of the Bond Bill Committee, said he has serious concerns about the request for tax money because the application indicates $1.3 million of the $2 million grant would be used on the building. When the $55 million infrastructure fund was created it was "not supposed to be for the building itself," said Venables, who is on the committee.
The application says $1.22 million of the grant would be used to "construct, maintain, extend or enhance any land stabilization" or related infrastructure. Because of the soil conditions at the site, the project requires 300-foot-deep pilings that would support the foundation, piling caps and grade beams, the application says.
"The pilings are beyond the scope of the fund," Venables said.
In an email to The News Journal, Robert Buccini wrote, "We believe the application is appropriate and look forward to discussing it in further detail with the committee on Monday."
The hotel has been a point of contention since October, when a report in The News Journal showed that the taxpayer-funded Riverfront Development Corp. had been quietly working with the developer on a publicly supported lodging on the development corporation's land. In a demand for "full disclosure" of the state's investment in the project, the Delaware Hotel & Lodging Association said members were "extremely concerned" that state money for the Riverfront hotel would create an "uneven playing field." Read more
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