Funds for a controversial Cocoa Beach hotel project received the green light Tuesday from the Brevard County Commission, which voted to award Driftwood Capital $30 million for a nearly $400 million resort the company is developing .
What do you want to know
- The Brevard County Commission on Tuesday approved a $30 million grant to subsidize a planned new resort for Cocoa Beach
- The nearly $400 million resort project is being developed by Driftwood Capital
- Many local hotel owners say they oppose the idea of the county providing funds for the project
- The Commission voted 3 to 1 in favor of awarding the grant to Driftwood Capital
Samir Patel, who owns three Brevard County hotels and is currently building another, says the business is in his blood. He has frequented hotels all his life on Merritt Island.
“We love taking care of guests, interacting with foreigners who come to our city,” he said. “I grew up here.”
Patel is one of dozens of local Cocoa Beach hoteliers who have spoken of the proposed Driftwood Westin Cocoa Beach Resort and Spa, which will replace the aging International Palms Resort, also owned by the company.
The project billed by developers as a 502-room resort, hotel and conference center, with three swimming pools, retail stores, 120,000 square feet of conference space and an 800-space parking lot.
Patel said he wasn’t opposed to the hotel itself, just the $30 million grant that county commissioners voted 3-1 in favor on Tuesday.
The funds will be used to market the hotel and will be disbursed at the rate of $1 million per year over 30 years.
“To say you have a 30-year marketing plan is impossible,” Patel said. “What is good today will no longer be so in thirty years. I have never heard of a 30-year plan. It has to be on an annual basis.
Patel said he and the others feared the new hotel would take away their belongings, but Driftwood representatives say that is not the case.
Company officials say the 4.5-star resort will charge premium rates — allowing other hotels to charge more — and pay more tourism taxes to the Brevard County Tourism Development Board.
“By being able to raise their rates, by having more business because we’re going to have spinoffs, they’re also going to generate more taxes,” said Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of Driftwood Capitol.
Patel’s newest hotel takes about five years to come to fruition at a time when construction and material costs are skyrocketing. He said if the county approves a grant for Driftwood, local hoteliers like him should have the same opportunity.
“There can’t be a class system where it’s just four and a half stars,” he said. “It has to be an equal playing field for all types, because we’re all enterprise developers.”
Driftwood officials said the resort will create some 1,300 jobs within five years and bring in more than $3 million in tourism tax revenue each year.